Updated: 06.09.2005; 10:36:38 Uhr.
Joerg's world
Bits & pieces picked up...

Dienstag, 6. September 2005

Mobile Phones in Europe Vying for iTunes. At Berlin's IFA electronics show, Germany's T-Mobile and the UK's O2 mobile phone providers both say they want to sell iTunes for their phones, maybe as soon as next week. [Designtechnica - News, Reviews and Talk Backs]
10:36:29 AM    comment []

4G Prototypes Phones Record Scorchio Speeds. 4G Prototypes Phones Record Scorchio SpeedsNTT DoCoMo's new 4G technology offers super fast data rates while on the move. [Digital-Lifestyles]
10:26:02 AM    comment []

Montag, 5. September 2005

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 29 Aug - 4 Sep 2005.

sponsored by:

This week: Social tools in disasters, VC trends, Custom Web 2.0 Business Plans, Web-based Office, Techie post of the week - APIs and control.

Social tools help in Katrina Hurricane

First things first. We've all been shocked by the Hurricane Katrina devastation. Dina Mehta has a couple of great posts that show the way for people to help, using blogs and social software (we all do what we can with the tools we know). Dina wrote:

"The KatrinaHelp wiki and blog teams, made up of people across USA, Europe, Bahrain, India and many more places, are currently also working with some of the developers around the Skype API and the SkypeJournal team (all independents, and Skype too has been supportive by offering up free SkypeOut minutes) and have managed to set up a kind of messaging centre between volunteers on the ground to connect those needing help with those that have it to offer. [...] Lets see how it emerges. What we could build around blogs and wikis and RSS and tagging and VOIP There are so many possibilities."

In a not unrelated follow-up post, Dina tells us what it's like to be poor in her home country of India. Also check out Nancy White's Full Circle blog, which is covering the Katrina crisis and pointing to resources.

VC Trends

If you've been following the Web 2.0 space (there's a good lingo word to use), you'll have noticed that Venture Capitalists have taken up blogging in a big way. I take this as an encouraging sign for both the market and the blogosphere - the latter because most VCs have an excellent strategic sense and are not shy about blogging their insights. I won't try and name every VC blogger, but a good RSS feed to subscribe to is The VC Channel - it aggregates a lot of the top VC bloggers. There's also a VC Channel website.

Some of the hot trends that VCs are looking at are: China (particularly Bokee, China's biggest blog network), mobile, consumer software aimed at The Long Tail, social media, Web 2.0. As Venture Capitalist David Cowan commented in RedHerring:

"Investments such as Bokee extend our consumer portfolio into the realm of applications widely known as web2.0, which to us means applications that are viral in nature and leverage consumer-generated content—two elements of a business that lead to rapid growth and high margins." 

Cowan expanded on this comment in his blog, noting that he is targeting the mobile and Asian consumer markets right now. He wrote more about his Consumer Investing theory in a follow-up post.

In another VC post this week, Jeremy Levine wrote about shorts and longs - meaning short-term and long-term investment opportunities. An example of a 'long' is what Levine terms "eBay for" businesses, which he defined as marketplaces that "make money by providing a forum for buyers and sellers to come together."

Custom Web 2.0 Business Plan

So if you're a humble developer or wanna-be entrepreneur, how does one attract the attention of a VC? Well you could try the odio.us Gateway to Web 2.0 Riches, developed by Nathan Torkington. It automatically generates a Web 2.0 business plan elevator pitch for you. Examples are:

- Decentralized Web 2.0 Ruby on Rails IM infrastructure that leverages the basic human need to connect.

- Mobile hybridized AJAX photo Firefox extension that leverages grassroots talent.

- Multi-device open source tagging-enabled voice web-app that leverages ubiquitous broadband.

- Long invite-only beta disruptive emergent calendaring Firefox extension that leverages network effects.

This reminds me - I wonder when the first Web 2.0 Reality TV show will be made? How about Tim O'Reilly as the Donald Trump character in 'The Apprentice 2.0'? ("MacManus, you failed to leverage the Long Tail and I didn't see any evidence of Network Effects. You're fired!") ;-)

Web 2.0 Office

I wrote a post this week summarizing some recent trends in Web-based Office software. I mentioned new and trendy products like Writely (Web-based word processing) and Kiko (online calendar). My post got some great comments. Ian mentioned his new product called Openomy, which he describes as an "online file-system". Jay pointed out that "the first Ajax app was Microsoft's web version of Outlook". Phil Pearson (who I met for the first time this week, in Wellington) mentioned that a company called HalfBrain developed an AJAX office suite back in the late 90's. Phil said it was made available to the public, "but then it got bought by IBM and disappeared".

I just updated that post tonight, with some more Web 2.0 Office products, so check it out.

Techie Post of the Week: APIs and control

Thought-provoking essay by William Blaze, who asks: who really has control in an API-powered Web 2.0 world. William says that the API is actually "a system of control", in which "the API creator has a nearly limitless ability to regulate what can go in and out of their system." He goes on to write:

"Privilege is what the Web 2.0 is really about. What separates the Web 2.0 from that plain old "web" is the establishment and entrenchment of a hierarchy of power and control. This is not the same control that Microsoft, AOL and other closed system / walled garden companies tried unsuccessfully to push upon internet users. Power in the Web 2.0 comes not from controlling the whole system, but in controlling the connections in a larger network of systems. It is the power of those who create not open systems, but semi-open systems, the power of API writers, network builders and standards definers."

Michal Migurski also posted some thoughts on this. 

While I don't agree entirely with William's thesis - it's too cynical to say that privilege is what Web 2.0 is about - he does make you think about the implications of APIs. William's right, APIs from the likes of Google, Amazon and Flickr always come with restrictions and strings attached. While we use the platforms of those companies, via their APIs, we're never in complete control. 

That's a Wrap!

OK, that's just about it for the week. Before I go, I want to give a shout-out to fellow Web 2.0 chroniclers TechCrunch. I'll be rooming with the TechCrunch crew in October, when I'm over in Silicon Valley. I can't wait to visit the home of the Web and shmooze with all the great people I've gotten to know virtually via my blog.

That's a wrap for another week!

[Read/Write Web]
12:35:15 PM    comment []

22 free and high quality PSP wallpaper images.

High quality PSP wallpaper

Since Sony released the version 2.0 update with support for customised wallpaper, owners of the console across the world have had the ability to customise their PSP’s background image. Whilst there’s nothing stopping people from firing up a copy of Photoshop and editing their favorite image to the PSP’s 480x272 resolution; some sites are starting to convert their computer wallpaper collections to the PSP, in the hope that PSP users take a look at buying their higher resolution desktop shots. One such site is PlasmaDesign.co.uk, run by Rob Rantoul, a UK PSP owner. He recently released a catalogue of his most popular desktop images for free download at the PSP’s native resolution. The image designs range from holiday photos of the pool tweaked in Photoshop to surreal 3D landscapes made in Bryce and Lightwave. Full size images range from the PSP resolution right up to an insane 2560x1600 pixels, which are capable of covering the entirety of the Apple 30in Widescreen Display. Get the 800k .zip file with 22 PSP wallpaper images here.

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

12:20:29 PM    comment []

Semantic MediaWiki.

The WikiProject Semantic MediaWiki provides a platform to discuss MediaWiki extensions using semantic web technologies to support machine processing of Wiki-content. The project aims to develop a single solution for semantic annotation that fits the needs of most Wikimedia projects and still meets the Wiki-specific requirements of usability and performance.

"I think this is an exciting project with a lot of potential. Wikipedia, for example, is marvelously successful and has made us all smarter. I'd like my software agents to have a Wikipedia of their own, one they can use to get the knowledge they need and one to which they can (eventually) contribute." -- Tim Finin

[Thank you Tim for posting !!! sorry for the delay]

[Smart Mobs]
10:31:01 AM    comment []

iTunes phone coming to O2 in the UK and T-Mobile in Germany?.

T-Mobile iTunes

Cingular already has a lock on the first Motorola iTunes phone here in the States, but what about our overseas brothers and sisters? Not sure about anywhere else, but apparently UK carrier O2 will be making a big announcement about the iTunes phone in a few weeks, and supposedly T-Mobile Germany “accidentally” revealed during a presentation that they expect to have an iTunes-compatible phone by Christmas.

Read - O2

Read - T-Mobile

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

10:28:31 AM    comment []

Cellophane converts an LCD or cameraphone display to 3D. cellophane 3d

Wow, cellophane — who knew? Keigo Iizuka knew, that’s who — and he describes how the simple application of cellophane to an LCD can convert it into a 3D display. The technique takes advantage of the fact that light emanating from the liquid crystal screen of a laptop or cellphone is linearly polarized, and is therefore easily manipulated by a polarizer sheet such as cellophane. The technique also includes a method for obviating the need to wear those ultra-hip 3D glasses, by making the screen wear the glasses instead.

[Thanks, Daniel T.]

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

10:25:38 AM    comment []

KDDI's EZ Passenger Seat Navi. ez passenger navi

KDDI has announced a new navigation service for their CDMA 1X WIN handsets over in Japan called “EZ Passenger Seat Navi.” Based on the same technology that made the company’s “EZ Navi Walker” pedestrian GPS navigation system possible (yes, walking directions are frequently needed in Japan), EZ Passenger Seat Navi provides basic driving direction assistance to those with compatible handsets. The system offers most of the basic GPS features such as voice commands, auto-reroute if you go off course, refreshes every second, and preference-based searches. But what’s most attractive is the price of the service — you can pay either 157 yen (about $1.42) for 24 hours of usage, or 315 yen ($2.86) for an entire month. Considering the costs associated with purchasing a dedicated GPS system for your car, this makes a nice low-cost alternative for those only wanting basic functionality.

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

10:24:56 AM    comment []

Objects of Desire: Week of 9/4/05.

It’s not possible to do our round-up post this week without noting that our biggest desire this week is that the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina find shelter and some semblance of normalcy in the coming weeks. We here at Weblogs Inc. have donated to the Red Cross and encourage you to do the same.

The Residences at Burj Dubai

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Signature Days

Caesar’s Designs

333 Sherbrooke

Furla Greta Bag

Phuket Pavillions

Corum Bubble Privateer Watch

Pink Razr Phone

West Fork Ranch

Britain’s Most Expensive Seaside Town

Mike Tyson Home on eBay

Bogner Lunar Boots

Changing Regulations on Vintage Wine

Van Cleef & Arpels Watches

Forty Love

Elio Necklaces


Montecito Estate

Virtual Gaveau Museum

Sasco Point Home

Damien Hirst Buys Toddington Manor

Design Within Reach Bedding

Star Sapphire For Sale

Phil Donahue’s Home

Villa DKD

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

10:16:35 AM    comment []

Subscriber Stats and Web-based Feed Readers.

Last night while looking at the new Feedburner design (well done guys!), I noticed that my subscriber stats figure has suddenly jumped. My current count of RSS subscribers in Feedburner is 3744. The main reason is that Rojo has just been added to Feedburner's numbers - previously it was missing. What surprised me is the extent of Rojo's impact on my stats. Rojo has overtaken Bloglines as the number 1 RSS Aggregator for my readers. Here is my current top 10:

Newsgator Online
Firefox Live Bookmarks
Google Desktop

A few quick comments on that:

- 7 of my top 10 are web-based RSS Readers (I'm counting Google Desktop in that). And 7 of the top 8 are web-based! Possibly that reflects my own bias towards web-based apps, which presumably a lot of my readers share.

- On the other hand, NetNewsWire is still going strong in 3rd place, which probably reflects my geek cred ;-)

- Rojo and Bloglines dominate my stats, which suggests to me that the other web-based readers have a lot of ground to catch up (and there are tons of new web-based feed readers on the market currently).

Coincidentally yesterday, before I found out about the Rojo numbers in my Feedburner, I decided to give Rojo another try. I've been increasingly frustrated by Bloglines - it doesn't cut the mustard anymore in terms of organising one's feeds, tracking topic feeds and in general adding value to my feed-reading existence.

Already I've noticed that Rojo's performance has improved since I last checked (that was my number one complaint about Rojo) and its added some neat new functionality - e.g. you no longer need to physically click the "Mark as Read" button. So I'll be using Rojo for the short term and perhaps in time it will convince me to stick around :-)

My question to Bloglines: when are we going to see these new improvements you've promised in the past? You'd better hurry up, because it's clear that Rojo is eating your lunch.

[Read/Write Web]
10:14:53 AM    comment []

Web 2.0 Office.

This week I've been noticing a lot of Web 2.0-style Office apps coming out. Here's a selection of some of them:

AjaxOffice - "A complete office suite usable via your browser. Your documents are safely stored on a server..."

Writely - "The Web Word Processor" (unfortunately the beta is full already). TechCrunch reviewed it and said: "Writely is a highly specialized niche application built with ajax. Ajax allows this (and other applications) to act very much like desktop apps."

The weirdly named FCKeditor is also an MS Word-like web app. It's open source too. (hat-tip Josh)

gOFFICE - "a browser-based online word processor and desktop publishing program"

Num Sum - web-based spreadsheets (hat-tip Michael Fagan). Interesting service that lets you share spreadsheets, except only the author of a spreadsheet can edit it.

Kiko - Online calendar solution powered by (of course) Ajax. TechCrunch profile here.

Those are just some of the web-based Office apps that have popped up recently. Don't forget established tools like Gmail (Google's email app that blows MS Outlook out of the water) and Chandler (the open source Personal Information Manager that has been in development for a Web eternity).

Interesting also to note this CNET article from way back in 2001, speculating that Yahoo was looking at Web-based office tools. CNET quoted from a survey on the Yahoo website at the time, asking questions about a "full-featured suite of office productivity tools available online through a browser, handheld devices and Web-enabled cell phones." Hmmm, wonder what ever happened to that?! IBM has also talked about server-based office apps in the past too.

Current Crop of web-based Office apps

But really the most interesting web-based Office apps are the current crop of Web 2.0-style apps, built by small start-ups or open source developers. Ajax seems to be a common denominator amongst a lot of them.

Is the development of this new kind of "Web 2.0" Office tool likely to be worrying Microsoft much at this stage?

I'm interested in knowing what other Webified Office tools are out there - alpha, beta or even a glint in a developer's eye. Please add to the comments and let's see if we can build a big list of them.

[Read/Write Web]
10:13:38 AM    comment []

RSS on mobile phones.

Barb Dybwad posed an interesting question this week: "how many of you read some or all of your RSS feeds on your cellphone? If you do - which application or service do you find the best/easiest to use/most comprehensive and why?"

Personally I don't read feeds in my mobile phone, although I would like to. I do download content from the Web onto my Palm PDA, for offline reading. So it makes sense to go the next step and read content online on my mobile device. Anyway Barb's readers recommended the following apps and services for mobile RSS reading, if you're interested:

- BuddyBuzz
- winksite.com
- LiteFeeds
- Bloglines mobile
- PHONifier
- iFeedYou
- FreeNews

[Read/Write Web]
10:09:39 AM    comment []

50Mbit/s Broadband, for Free!.

TM_2532_DeutscheTelekomBerlin03.jpgEverything in life is better when it is free, especially torrents of your favorite fetish porn downloading at a blazing 50Mbit/s. Calm down you silly porn-loving American, this is only happening in Germany. Deutsche Telekom apparently has a pocket full of amphetamines. The project, titled Lightspeed, plans to have this new fiber line run to 2.9 million households a year from now. The freeness I speak of is currently available via their site and will run at just 25 Mbit/s for the time being. The free offer is only taking place in Hamburg and Stuttgart.

Deutsche Telekom: 50Mbit/s Broadband… [Digital-Lifestyles]

10:06:29 AM    comment []

Announcing Entrepreneurial Venture Profile Posting.


This whole VC thing has really got me thinking. It's really exciting to me to see the new concepts that people are launching right now. In some ways it's almost like 1995 all over again. At the same time, there are lots of entrepreneurs out there with great ideas, excellent teams, the ability to execute, and maybe even beta software or products who, mainly because they don't have a connection, are condemned to toil away in obscurity all because they don't have a contact that can get them in front of a VC.

It's no exaggeration when you hear investors lament that they're buried in business plans. I've seen stacks of them four feet high in some VC offices. It pains me to say it but there aren't enough hours in the day to read them all. So what to do?

Well, in most cases this means that the people that a VC knows are going to get their plans read or at least read ahead of the others. I know that I would never have been in a single door if it weren't for a mentor of mine recommending me to a VC who (probably grudgingly) agreed to give me half an hour.

I'd like to change that. Of course, I'm not going to be able to single handedly change a dynamic that exists simply because there are so many entrepreneurs with ideas, but at least as far as Angel Strategies and Mobile Technology is concerned I am going to do something a little different. At least I'm going to give it a try.

Starting now, I'm going to reserve my Friday post to profile at least one new venture. That is, one new venture contributed for my review by the readers of this blog.

Here's how this will work: pay attention, my blog, my rules.

If you or someone you know has a new business venture that you'd like me to profile, and possibly even analyze or critique a bit (if I have anything meaningful to say), all you have to do is send me a BRIEF summary of the plan and the people who would execute.

Here are the other key caveats:


The venture must HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANY VENTURE INVESTMENT (a small friends and family or very small angel round is ok but nothing more)

By sending me this plan you understand that I MAY post some or all of what you submit on this blog which is in the public domain and publishes under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Use "Some Rights Reserved" parameter.

You understand that while I might receive many submissions it is at my sole discretion which submissions I display or discuss.

You also understand that while I reserve the right to present any, all or none of the plans to Angel Strategies Principals, I am under no obligation to do so.

You acknowledge that this Entrepreneurial Venture Profile Post (EVPP) is not part of Angel Strategies evaluation process nor is Angel Strategies directly involved in the review or analysis of any submissions that I receive.

You accept that from time to time, I may forward your submissions to other Venture Capitalists or Angel Investors if I see a match that I believe at my sole discretion is in the best interest of any of the parties involved.

You understand that anything you send me will not be returned. DO NOT SEND SOMETHING YOU NEED BACK. I don't want to be responsible for proto-types, demo units, irreplaceable copies of code...you get the idea. Do send me stuff to play with, or software to try, just don't think I have time to go to the post and mail it back.

By submitting a venture summary for my consideration you a
knowledge that you have read everything above and agree that these are the terms under which I accept these submissions.

Whew...I was starting to feel like an attorney!

Okay, here's the fun stuff. How do you get profiled? First have a good succinct summary. You're heard of an "elevator" pitch? Reduce it to paper, add the bios of management and send it in. Make sure it is related to MOBILE TECHNOLOGY.


It will help your chances if I already know your name. This does not mean that I went to school with you or that we know one another...one of the surest ways for me to know (and remember) your name is for you to comment on posts in this blog. Help me critique the other ventures I profile. Get into the dialog.

Have a GREAT IDEA. This is most important. If you blow me away with an idea...one of those "damn, I should have thought of that!" sort of ideas, you can bet you'll be on the top of my list come Thursday night.

Last, get me your submissions early in the week. If I get 200 summaries on Thursday evening, most of them are going to sit till the next week at least.

Final words on this for now: I really hope people jump on this. John (the Managing Partner) was enthusiastic about this concept and I'd love to see some plans that do get funded through this channel. It is for real and I will champion ideas that I think merit the effort.

One other thing that you can do to really improve your venture's chances of getting funding (way beyond a submission here) is to go visit The Venture Alliance's web site and commit to their process to help you determine how ready your enterprise is for a round of venture capital. My understanding is that entrepreneurs that go through the TVA process are more than 80% more likely to get a venture capital investment than those that do not.

In any case TVA connects with funds who in total have an aggregate of $4 billion available for investment. Getting in front of them is much more important than getting in front of me.

Okay...that's it....have fun. I wish everyone luck and I look forward to seeing some fantastic ideas.

Oh, one final thing...it should go without saying that I reserve the right to change any or all of my rules or discontinue posting profiles or even evaluation of submissions at any time, and that I may also, at my sole discretion, change, break or ignore some or all of the rules I have listed above where so doing does not violate any laws, ordinances or human rights.

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
10:03:36 AM    comment []

Cingular to Launch Apple i-Tunes Phone.

This just in from PostSecret details have emerged (FINALLY) about the long awaited Motorola i-Tunes phone.

Ryan Katz, Senior Editor at PostSecret reports:

September 2, 2005 - Apple will upgrade both its iPod mini and iPod shuffle lines of music players, but most likely not at its media event next week, Think Secret has learned. The media event will instead be devoted almost exclusively to the new iTunes-enabled Motorola phone and the company's partnership with Cingular.

The new phone will reportedly be available in two capacities, 256MB and 512MB, capable of storing about 70 and 140 songs, respectively. Users will not only be able to plug the phone into their computer to tap their iTunes Music Library for tunes, but will also have the ability of buying songs on the fly over Cingular's network, probably for about $2 a song, sources report. The ability to download songs from the phone represents a departure from Apple's original design for the phone. Months ago it emerged that cell phone networks Apple was in talks with, eager to share revenue that a music download service could generate, were uninterested in carrying the phone unless such a feature was included.

Cingular will be the only carrier of the phone in the U.S. at launch, while London's Times reported Thursday that O2 will be the exclusive carrier in Britain.

People sometimes ask me if I have it in for the carriers. While I won't say that I particularly want to hurt them, sometimes their selfish behavior makes me hope that prognostications like Russell Buckley's and Om Malik's. If they keep treating their customers with contempt, taking advantage of the very people that put revenue in their coffers then by all means they deserve to be dis-intermediated from their revenue stream. And believe you me, a vast number of people will deal with slight compromises in quality and convenience to teach someone that hasn't been treating them fairly a nice lesson.

Russell Buckley pointed out that he felt this exact scenario was highly likely and lo and behold, they've proven him prescient. Not that predicting that the Recording Industry is going to go straight to the lowest common denominator of insulting greed is all the difficult.

I also think in the end, charging so much per song is going to ultimately prove to be very foolish. Not only because it will dampen enthusiasm for the phone, but also because in the final analysis, Cingular will probably lose out on a lot more revenue than their share of the $2 bucks they're charging per song (which is probably somewhere around fifty cents when the record labels get their $1 and the distribution company...i-Tunes gets its share).

Did Cingular forget about their other source of revenue from these customers? Megabits, kilobytes...you know, just data in general. Unless you shell out for an unlimited plan, Cingular charges for data by the kilobyte. Instead of encouraging users to circumvent the music download altogether... (and believe you me they will)...and you'll see people using WiFi, bluetooth, infrared...anything to get their existing library onto their phone.

I am already aware of one technology that will be profiled in the next few days or so on this blog that will facilitate the storage and downloading of music to any phone capable of playing a music file. Cingular would have been much smarter to have learned of this technology and turned their customers into downloading fiends. They shouldn't have worried so much about getting a piece of the music sales, they should have focused on getting more data revenue per user the way they're set up to do it. Dumb. That's the only word that really sums it up.

So what to do? I say don't rush out and buy one of those phones yet. There are going to be plenty of open solutions that will let you get the music you've already purchased, or want to purchase at a FAIR price and store it anywhere you'd like...not just how some greedy carrier tells you to store it.

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
10:01:58 AM    comment []

Will Mobsharing and Ad-Hoc P2P Nets Stymie Recording Industry?.

matrix-swarm.jpg To see this image in its original context go here: http://www.cheesebikini.com/art/matrix-swarm.jpg

I had the good fortune to stumble upon a truly fantastic blog post today by Mike Evans of Mobilementalism.

This idea is so clever, so right now, and is likely to be hugely popular especially with the younger set. Plus, take this concept and add to it the use of a MoSoSo like Dodgeball or StreetHive and you have a perfect Howard Rheingold scenario.

With the advent of phones that have better MP3 fidelity, the ability to store many (as in the case of Nokia's N91, around a thousand) songs and the increasing availability of phones that have Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities, this kind of activity that combines social interaction with a popular activity like file sharing is sure to drive adoption of many of the applications that enable events like Flash Mobshares to take place.

Now all we need is for an enterprising developer to write a bit torrent program to be run over personal area networks or small ad-hoc LANS and we're in business.

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
10:00:11 AM    comment []

PSP downloads won't be free for long.

Piggy BankIt turns out that Wipeout Pure’s free content downloads were just a test case. In 2006, Sony plans to move to pay-per-downloads, according to comments made by SCE’s European vice president Phil Harrison in Edge magazine. This will be made possible by a digital rights management system (similar to iTunes) that Sony is in the process of constructing. What concerns us is that new features that in that past would have been included in firmware upgrades (e.g. the web browser) might end up costing us extra.

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

9:56:36 AM    comment []

Fame for you and your gaming alter-ego.

Kim aka Storm (Robbie Cooper exhibit photo)Almost a year ago now, we took note of the work of artist Robbie Cooper, who took photos of real people and put them next to screenshots of the Everquest avatars that those people controlled. Pictured at right is one of those juxtapositions. (For the rest of them, click here.)

In an update to his Alter Ego project, Cooper has teamed with writer Tracy Spaight to put together a book featuring Second Life players who, according to blog Clickable Culture:

  • Look like their avatars
  • Make real money through virtual businesses
  • Are males playing females or vice versa (”Manginas” and “Shenises”, in MMOG parlance)
  • Express themselves creatively online (fluent l33t doesn’t count)
  • Met a significant other online
  • Have a zany tale to tell about an online experience

The artists can be contacted at tspaight@gmail.com. Include your location, contact information, and why you think you’re worthy of their artsy interest. Just don’t brag about that one time you and two wood elves shacked up for an entire fortnight in Kelethin. Virtual gentlemen never kiss and tell.

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

9:54:18 AM    comment []

Dienstag, 30. August 2005

Biofeedback music.

Developed by Sonic Studio, BodyRest is a wearable device (PDA + headphones + sensors) that produces customized music for relaxation. Thanks to the bio feed-back system, music changes in real time according to the listeners physiological parameters, i.e. stress level.


This music does not have a beginning or an end, and sounds different from time to time and is composed as it is needed âo[base "] the developers call it just-in-time-composition.

The concept of BodyResT is based on a biofeedback technique that trains individuals to improve their health by listening to their own bodyâo[dot accent]s signals. The prototype will measure the individualâo[dot accent]s stress level through a physiologic parameter. This will then be reï¬[not equal]ected in the music. The continuous feedback between the music and the individual enhances relaxation response.


In the �rst prototype the heart rate is measured by a sensor attached to the ear lobe. The sensor is connected to a small EIS (Embedded Internet System) platform with Bluetooth capabilities. Sensor data is sent via wireless connection to a software application which controls a music generating sound engine.

In the next generation of BodyResT we will measure a second physiological parameter.

Movie presentation on the website.

[we make money not art]
3:33:08 PM    comment []

The future of search.

This Time article looks at the future of search engines."You land late in the evening in a city where you know nobody.You did not have time to book a hotel,your luggage has not turned up on the carousel--and the plane's air conditioning gave you a sore throat.What to do?With your cell phone,you first Google your suitcase--it has a small implanted chip that responds to radio waves with a GPS locator--and it turns out that your luggage has been deposited 200 yds. away in the next terminal.As you walk over,you search for a hotel room;the screen of your cell shows you pictures of several hotels in your price bracket,with views from individual room windows.Your search engine gives you a list of pharmacies that are still open at this hour,and tells you that your favorite blues band will be playing at a festival in the city's park over the weekend.The engine can search your desktop back home,and it reminds you that a college friend e-mailed you a year ago to say he and his wife were moving to this city (you had forgotten).You decide to invite them to the festival.What you have just tasted is the future of search".

On the Frontier of Search

[Smart Mobs]
1:08:32 PM    comment []

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 8-14 August 2005.

sponsored by:

Onfolio is offering R/WW readers a coupon code entitling the bearer to $30 off a purchase of Onfolio Professional before August 31st (a 30% saving off the normal $99.95 price). To use the coupon, enter it at the time of purchase. Coupon Code: RM857202

This week: RSS branding, More Web 2.0 definitions, Spam and fake blogs, MBAs learn about Web 2.0, Techie post of the week.

RSS Brand Morphs Into Feeds

A lot of interest this week in how the label 'RSS' is being usurped by 'feeds' or 'Web feeds'. Once the accepted brand name for syndication technologies, the big 3 Internet companies are all now using the term 'feeds' (or 'web feeds' in Microsoft's case) as their preferred method of promoting RSS technologies to their mainstream users. Most other RSS-related companies are doing the same: Feedburner, Six Apart, Bloglines are just a few high profile examples. And judging by all the comments on my initial post about this, a majority of people feel that 'feeds' is a better brand name for Web syndication technologies than 'RSS'. 

But still, the term 'RSS' won't go out of usage amongst the geek set. RSS 2.0 is the dominant feed format - and is likely to remain so, unless Google can push their preferred Atom format onto the masses. And the RDF-derived RSS 1.0 will continue to have its fair share of disciples. Feeds is the way we'll be promoting all of these formats to mainstream users, but it won't stop us geeks from continuing our religious battles over RSS vs Atom and so forth :-)

Web 2.0 Definition Rolls On

There were some very interesting discussions about the meaning of Web 2.0 this week, sparked by Web legend Tim Bray's post entitled Not Web 2.0. Tim O'Reilly replied to Bray's post - see also the fascinating comments thread. I especially liked this comment made by someone called "pb":

"Web 1 was the period up to the dot bomb. Web 2 is what has been emerging, what has been succeeding, since that big implosion. I believe that this is the way most "average" people -- if not the technical elite -- will perceive the terms."

I'll be writing LOTS more about all this in the near future (that message brought to you by the Subtle Hint Department). For now I just want to point out that the term 'Web 2.0' seems to be generally accepted now. There still isn't a canonical definition, despite the best efforts of the Wikipedia contributers. But the conversations about Web 2.0 are helping everyone grok the term.

Spam and Fake Blogs

Dave Sifry has been running a series of thought-provoking posts on the "State of the Blogosphere". I particularly liked the 4th in the series, on the topic of Spam and Fake Blogs. The two most contentious posts I've ever written on R/WW were on this touchy topic, because it riles people up (including me!). 

Dave wrote that Technorati has been "tracking an increase in the number of people who are trying to manipulate the blogosphere." He goes on to say that spam and fake blogs are almost always created by automated programs, not by people. They're driven by affiliate or advertising money and high search rankings. So Dave and others are working hard to "eliminate economic incentives" for these types of blogs. 

Of course I heartily endorse and applaud this action by Dave, because as I mentioned in my (in)famous Bots post - these automated spam or fake blogs are polluting the Web and cluttering up search engine results.

MBA Blogging Success

The results are in for Bud Gibson's recent blogging bootcamp for Michigan MBA students. Over 6 weeks the students created and maintained blogs that competed with "cleaning and restoration services" websites. The results are interesting. All of the blogs ended up with a Google PageRank of 5, which was better than three of the old school websites. According to Bud, this suggested "that bootcamp sites would come out ahead of these two sites in searches where their content is equally relevant". The blog sites also had encouraging results in keyword tests.

Bud concluded:

"The bootcamp results demonstrate that with moderate but systematic effort bloggers can achieve search visibility that outperforms established local players for relevant searches."

This is what could be termed The Good Side of blogs for businesses. The Dark Side is the spam and fake blogs I wrote about above. It seems to be relatively easy nowadays for both sides to gain search engine ascendancy over old-school websites.

Nevertheless, it is great that up and coming business people are being taught the value of blogs and social software. You may've noticed that in my Weekly Wrap-Ups, I try to highlight non-techie manifestations of Web 2.0 as well as the geeky stuff. If the Web really is a platform, then we want to encourage as many people as possible to build on it.

Techie Post of the Week

Instead of a single post, this week I'd like to give a shout-out to the TechCrunch blog. Their regular profiles of Web 2.0 companies is exhaustive and wide-ranging.

They also have a weekly review of Web 2.0 news, modelled on my own Weekly Wrap-Up. But whereas I generally pick a few topics or a theme and drill down, the TechCrunch weekly provides broad coverage. So I think we complement each other in that respect. OK yes, we did have some friendly words about the name of their weekly review - but we've sorted that out now :-) I recommend you add TechCrunch to your RSS Aggregator.

That's a wrap for another week!

[Read/Write Web]
1:03:58 PM    comment []

Web as Platform Mash-Ups.

There have been a lot of excellent posts and articles this week about APIs, the Web as Platform, web sites as software companies, and so forth. Here's my own mash-up of some of the highlights:

The Philosophy of Web 2.0

To set the scene, let's consider what the essence of Web 2.0 is. Peter Merholz has been thinking about this: "The point isn't the features, it's the underlying philosophy of relinquishing control." He pointed to Barnes & Noble's failed attempt to replicate Amazon's features and also cited Blockbuster trying to copy Netflix.

New blogger Sergey Schetinin has a 2.0 twist on an old theme: The Web is Atomic. I particularly liked this remix of Paul Miller's words:

"Web 2.0 presages a freeing of data, allowing it to be exposed, discovered and manipulated in a variety of ways…
Web 2.0 permits the building of virtual applications, drawing data and functionality from a number of different sources…
Web 2.0 applications work for the user, and are able to locate and assemble content that meets our needs as users…
Web 2.0 applications are modular …
Web 2.0 is about sharing; code, content, ideas…"

So the philosophy of Web 2.0 is to let go of control, share ideas and code, build on what others have built, free your data. It's actually a difficult philosophy to live by, when you consider how capitalistic Western society is. But more on that in another post... 

btw, I've gotta love a new blogger that puts me on their v0.1 blogroll alongside just 3 other people: Clay Shirky, Kevin Kelly, Tim Berners-Lee. :-)

Mash-Up Theory

ZDNet is calling the current generation of the Web the "recombinant Web". Although that term is too much of a mouthful to catch on, the explanation is spot on:

"...the recombinant Web, Web mash-ups, Web 2.0 or just the next phase of Web evolution heralds the use of the Web as a platform for creating new kinds of user experiences and businesses. Jon Udell calls it remixable Web applications."

In a CNET article entitled Catching up to Web 2.0, Martin LaMonica gives us his definition: 

"Now programmable Web sites are becoming more widespread, a change that unleashing all sorts of intriguing combinations, or "mash-ups." Some people call that Web 2.0."

LaMonica wrote more on that theme in a follow-up CNet article entitled From Web page to Web platform. His bottom line: 

"Experts predict Web site owners will increasingly resemble software companies: To generate traffic and sales, they will encourage add-on products and Web services."

Hmmm, there is an overarching theme developing here. In CNET's words:

"The effect is to put a great deal of power in the hands of outside individuals and to transform Web sites into programmable machines."

Web sites as software companies, programmable machines... I like that way of expressing the power of Web 2.0 sites/entities such as Google and Amazon.

Web as Platform implementations

The second CNET article also has a paragraph devoted to eBay's use of APIs. Apparently 20% of eBay's listings come from the APIs - mostly for "high volumes". There are now 18,000 people in eBay's developer program, up from just 300 in 2003.

Robert Scoble recently visited eBay and was so impressed he was moved to comment:

"I think we're about to see a revolution in retailing. Someone could build an interesting new store using a combination of Google Maps or MSN Virtual Earth, Amazon, eBay, and other Web services."

But as usual, Robert's commenters had some interesting counterpoints. Developer Morgan Schweers said: 

"There are some questions to be asked about the openness and design of eBay's API. [...] As for the people who are making $1Mil/mo., they are most likely spending $750+K/mo. to make it."

On the topic of implementations of API services, Feedburner has just released its FeedBurner Feed Management API. It's described as:

"...sort of like a universal remote control for FeedBurner services. You can create, manage and remove feeds in your account without ever visiting feedburner.com."

The quintessential Web 2.0 application

According to Rashmi Sinha, the quintessential Web 2.0 application is Flickr. She explained: 

"Its data and metadata is contributed by its users; while the interface is its own. Its API's are used by developers who tend to use its data, but not the interface (such as Mappr, Color Pickr)."

Flickr is certainly a great example of a small company using Web 2.0 technologies to its advantage, although on a larger scale I don't think you can go past Google, Amazon and eBay as quintessential Web 2.0 entities. I also liked this line by Jon in the comments to Rashmi's post: "When web sites start acting like software companies, then you have your Web 2.0."

The Future of the Web, according to its Creator

Finally, to end this mash-up on the topic of mash-ups, let me go right back to the original source of the Web - Tim Berners-Lee. In a recent interview with the BBC on the topic of the read/write Web, Sir Tim had this prediction for the Web in 30 years time:

"My goal for the web in 30 years is to be the platform which has led to the building of something very new and special, which we can't imagine now."

'nuff said.

[Read/Write Web]
1:02:59 PM    comment []

RSS 3.0?.

This is news to me. Apparently there's a version 3 of RSS, which purports to be "a derivative work which is meant to replace the 2.0 version." That'll please Dave Winer, I'm sure. A guy called Jonathan Avidan is behind RSS 3.0 and he seems to be the only one contributing to the RSS 3 MessageBoards at this time.

Mr Avidan also posted an article at Slashdot, which seriously makes me wonder if there is any decent editing going on there - because frankly this RSS 3 looks to be a load of bunk. As one Slashdot commenter said:

"There is zero community behind this "standard", it's just a spec some guy decided to write of his own accord. In contrast, a real community effort, Atom, has just reached 1.0 and is standardized by the IETF. Nobody should take this "RSS 3.0" seriously."

Indeed just yesterday the Atom Syndication Format was approved by the IESG as an IETF Proposed Standard. In English, that means Atom is officially an alternative RSS format to RSS 2.0.

In comparison to Atom, which is a real community effort backed by some very smart and distinguished people, RSS 3 looks to be simply a publicity stunt for its author.

But let's be fair to Avidan and hear him out. In Slashdot he defends RSS 3 and answers the obvious question, why not support Atom? Avidan wrote:

"...why not Atom? I don't like Atom and believe that with more documentation, RSS stands a good chance. Competition, if moderately friendly and not destructive, is beneficial to both parties."

He doesn't like Atom? That's his reason for starting yet another RSS format?! He explains more in the "official blog":

"...it is my belief that RSS 2, given further documentation and reworking, can compete with Atom. Why do I want to compete with Atom? That would be too long to explain here, unfortunately."

Perhaps I'm being too harsh, but I can't see the point of RSS 3 at all. Jonathan, at the very least you need to explain to people why you're not supporting a true community standard, which Atom undoubtedly is. RSS 2.0 already has significant uptake as the main RSS format, so why are you starting yet another fork of it?

[Read/Write Web]
1:00:51 PM    comment []

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 15-21 August 2005.

sponsored by:

Onfolio is offering R/WW readers a coupon code entitling the bearer to $30 off a purchase of Onfolio Professional before August 31st (a 30% saving off the normal $99.95 price). To use the coupon, enter it at the time of purchase. Coupon Code: RM857202

This week: New apps on the block, Schools and the Web, Kids and Web 2.0, API magic, Outsourcing your PC.

New Apps on the Block

Lots of start-up action this week. Two ones that caught my eye were Flock and Wordpress.com.

Flock is described as a "social web browser". Considering that the browser market hasn't had any decent innovation since Firefox burst onto the scene in November 2004, Flock sounds intriguing. Indeed Flock started off as a company, then named Round Two, building Firefox extensions (I wrote about them in this April post). SiliconBeat reports that Flock is a browser "aimed at making it easy for the Web 2.0 crowd to blog, post photos, etc." Roland Tanglao has more details - he was blown away. Will Pate also has a write-up. So yes, Flock sounds fascinating and I've signed up for an invite.

Wordpress.com is a hosted version of the open source blogging tool, Wordpress. It sounds like it'll give Six Apart's TypePad product a run for its money, especially if it's free (as SiliconBeat say it is). Not that Six Apart is standing still - Movable Type 3.2 sounds like a big step forward in functionality and TypePad has new features too. Andrew Watson is tracking the Wordpress.com news.

P.S. Keep an eye out for the TechCrunch profiles of Flock and Wordpress.com. The TechCrunch crew have been making their presence felt over in Silicon Valley - my brothers! Also check out their latest Web 2.0 This Week.

Schools and the Web

One of the kicks I get out of my blog is tracking how people in The Real World are using Web 2.0 technologies. One of the most active groups is teachers and people in the education system. Cole Camplese's Learning & Innovation blog is a good example. Cole works at Penn State University, in the School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). Web 2.0 is at the core of a class he teaches called IST 110. He explained:

"I will once again use the class blog for the primary communication area, but will extend it to give each their own accounts and spaces. I will be doing quite a bit of podcasting - both my own and expecting them to produce a bunch. I will be testing my enclosure bundles with them as well! I’ll use digital video again so they can communicate their solutions in ways beyond text - and I think I will do a little more of it."

Man, I wish my INFO 110 course in the early 90's had been that exciting (for the record, it was more boring than ECON 101). 

Another recent educator that has been talking about Web 2.0 is Noah Brier's Mum, Barbara Rubin Brier. Noah posted an email from his Mum, which outlined her thoughts about how schools are using the Web. Looking ahead 25-30 years, Barbara thinks "the people in our classrooms will not be teachers of content knowledge, but facilitators of learning that will be entirely web-based."

Kids and Web 2.0

Alexander Muse asks an interesting question:

"...does the fact that many of us who were active in the first Web boom now have children affect the direction of the web?"

I'd say the social nature of the current Web and the maturity of the industry now (compared to the craziness of dotcom times) is indeed affecting how Web 2.0 is panning out. Our little Web is growing up ;-)

The magic of APIs

This week I wrote a post summarising some recent articles about APIs. I want to highlight that theme again here in my Weekly Wrap-Up, so I thought I'd provide a few more examples of APIs in action. 

Firstly James MacAonghus' analysis of Expedia, the online travel planning and flight-booking site. James thinks Expedia is more than that, saying it's "a heavyweight ecommerce and search website in its own right". He thinks that APIs would help Expedia compete with the big Internet companies:

"If Expedia could roll out an API platform of its own, it could at least fight it out with Google (and Yahoo and anyone else who will join the fray). At best, Expedia could increase its reach and range of services in ways impossible to a single company."

Of course Google, Yahoo and others won't sit back and wait for Expedia to catch up - they will forge ahead with new APIs. As Mark Sigal wrote in his RSS as a Web 2.0 platform article:

"... I would expect that fierce competition for developer mindshare between Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay will continue to push these folks to open up more and more of their APIs. [...] My bet is that before too long, the filtration, personalization and ad serving functions get reduced to an API that a developer can plug into their application."

Finally, Brad Feld's been thinking of APIs too. He wants a "CIO dashboard" view across all his data:

"Much of this data is “open” and freely available via APIs and web services although some isn’t easy to get."

Which would be a great example of a web app built on top of APIs from various companies - Google, Yahoo, Feedburner, etc. Ben Barren says KlipFolio is an example of this kind of app.

Techie Post of the Week: Outsource your PC

John Clingan has an interesting view on how to reduce spam and viruses on the Web - outsource your home PC by having all its software hosted on the Web. As Stephen O'Grady pointed out in the comments, this is known as the "thin client model". John wrote:

"I haven't been following the Web 2.0 discussion at all, but when I think of Web 2.0, I think of a web with security first and foremost. Every client has a certificate. Every server has a certificate. Email is safe. No spyware. No SPAM. OK, not entirely true, but there is some level of accountability. We have a thread to follow. If you want to be anonymous, back out to Web 1.0 and die a death by a thousand paper cuts. Support yourself, don't come to me."

I'm not entirely sure I follow John's reasoning here - it would be great if he explained it a bit more. But I think I see where he's coming from. It's similar to my SoulWeb post, in which I mused that one's PC will in future be hosted on the Web.

In many ways that will be the zenith of Web 2.0 - when the Web is a platform for our entire computing experience.

That's a wrap for another week!

[Read/Write Web]
1:00:01 PM    comment []

9rules Network.

9rules NetworkI've joined the 9rules Network, a community of high quality weblogs and websites. Here's the announcement from Paul Scrivens, 9rules' inspirational CEO. The 9rules Network is very similar to what I described as my ideal blog network a few weeks ago: "a group of niche bloggers, each with their own unique look n' feel but collectively part of a branded network of like minds." In fact that was what attracted the attention of 9rules to my blog in the first place.

Here's how it works. I keep 100% ownership and control of my blog, which is very important to me. But I get to join a community of quality websites, which has opportunities for network advertising. It also gives my blog wider coverage, especially in the design community. Best of all, the network members help each other out - e.g. I could use some design help and in return I'm happy to give writing advice and tips.

The 9rules community is very strong in web design - there are a lot of beautifully designed websites in the network. I'm hoping to learn a lot from the community in that respect, because to be frank my blog design looks plain in comparison. On the other hand, I pride myself on writing top quality and original content on the topic of Web Technology. So I hope that my content inspires others and that I introduce some of the 9rules community to my niche interests (Web 2.0, Social Media). I think there'll be a lot of quid pro quo.

[Read/Write Web]
12:58:40 PM    comment []

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 22-28 August 2005.

sponsored by:

Onfolio is offering R/WW readers a coupon code entitling the bearer to $30 off a purchase of Onfolio Professional before August 31st (a 30% saving off the normal $99.95 price). To use the coupon, enter it at the time of purchase. Coupon Code: RM857202

This week: Google vs Skype, BBC puts TV on the Web, New Apps on the Block, Worldwide Web 2.0 Camps, Techie post of the week - Kottke's Web OS.

Google Shakes Up Web - but Skype fights back

On the back of an 18 August announcement that they are raising another $4 billion in funds, this week Google announced a new instant messaging and Internet telephony product called Google Talk. It integrates with Gmail, so Google now has all the primary Internet communications channnels covered. Lots of people had opinions on Google Talk during the week and Download Squad seemed to get the breaking story. But the most interesting angle to me was the competition with Skype. I use (and love) Skype for both its telephony and IM services, similar to how Steve Gillmor uses Skype. Now that Google Talk has arrived on the scene, I and many others will have to choose between the two.

What's Skype doing in response to this huge competitive threat? Nothing short of opening its platform to the web - if this 24 August press release is to be believed. In a move of breathtaking Web 2.0-ness, Skype is "opening up its platform to anyone who wants to integrate Skype’s presence and instant messaging services into their website or application". This statement sums it up:

"By opening up its platform to the web, Skype will instantly be creating the largest open instant messaging platform in the world."

Skype's APIs are an attempt to strike back at Google. And the press release has got some keywords in it that are designed to directly challenge the Mountain View company. For example, "open" is a word that is largely foreign to Google - and I counted 8 instances of "open" in the press release. I also counted 8 instances of the word "platform". 

Open platform - gee, does that sound like the only thing that could conceivably stop Google from pinching all of Skype's customers? I believe the phrase is: Game On. 

BBC takes TV to the Web

According to the BBC News website:

"A simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two, letting UK viewers see programmes on the web at the same time as they go out on TV, is being planned."

It also plans to beef up tv coverage on mobile phones. The report says the Web simulcast will be restricted to UK viewers only, although how that will work is not explained. PaidContent.org has more details on this development, including pointing to news of the MyBBCPlayer - "which will allow viewers to legally download seven days of programmes".

As TechDirt outlined, this is the latest in a long line of innovative moves by the BBC to open up their content on the Web. I've been a fan of the BBC's Internet efforts since they started their developer network in May 05, BBC Backstage, which lets people remix BBC content.

BBC is in the vanguard of media and television companies in Web 2.0 - let's hope other media companies follow suit.

New Apps on the Block

nkotbTime to highlight some new Web 2.0 apps and services:

Spanning Salesforce 2.0 - Charlie Wood releases his RSS-powered Salesforce.com service. "Spanning Salesforce delivers presentations, price lists, collateral, and other documents stored in Salesforce.com right to your laptop, desktop, or PDA."

Personal Bee - I still haven't figured out what it does, but it's described as "a 'discovery engine' that helps you discover information from a collection of RSS feeds". No I don't know what that means either, but it's an interesting app and worth keeping an eye on. TechCrunch profiled it here.

Pandora is "a music listening and discovery service" that "enables users to easily create streaming stations that explore their favorite parts of the music universe." Robert Scoble likes it and has sent it to Bill to check out. It's invitation-only right now, but for a preview listen to Joe Lindsay's Pandora music station that he created - named Steriogram Radio

LiteFeeds - free mobile RSS service, for Java Phones/SmartPhones, Blackberry, Palm or PocketPC.

SearchFox - a Personalized RSS Reader that "uses machine-learning technology to automatically rank and personalize incoming feeds to reflect each reader’s unique interests."

NewsGator APIs - this week NewsGator announced APIs for both commercial and non-commercial applications.

Talkr - "Letting blogs speak for themselves". This isn't so new and I've mentioned it before. But it's so cool and this week I found out some of my family have been clicking on the Talkr audio links on my blog. They were expecting to hear my voice, but heard the lovely computer woman instead. Talkr rocks!

For more Web 2.0 app profiles, check out TechCrunch. They do this full-time and give a lot of background detail on each profile.

Worldwide Web 2.0 Camps

My Ireland correspondent Fergus Burns of Nooked informed me this week that Ireland is holding a Tech Camp - "the Irish version of FooCamp and BarCamp". The wiki for this event says:

"Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be as much tech innovation coming from grassroots-tech in Ireland. The US is doing some great work in Web 2.0 and Blogging; having loads of conferences and blogger-dinners; while all we have here is a few very business-like events, and seemingly very few new projects. What's needed is for us to CONNECT and SHARE and maybe a few companies will get started as a result!"

I feel exactly the same way about my own country. Indeed my first thought on reading this was: why doesn't New Zealand do the same? Then a couple of days later I noticed O'Reilly's resident kiwi Nat Torkington bring up the topic on O'Reilly Radar:

"The Maori Haka: learn to do the Maori war dance that the New Zealand rugby team starts all their games with. We'll learn this when I do a New Zealand FOO Camp."

Of course I piped up in the comments: count me in! Although I can't imagine kiwi geeks intimidating anyone with the haka :-) 

Actually I think we need these Foo/Bar Camps all over the world. One day maybe there'll be a Live8-type deal, where we have simultaneous Techie Camps happening in different countries - all of them webcast and blogged of course!

Techie Post of the Week: Kottke's WebOS

You've gotta love Jason Kottke - he writes about his personal life as a blogger in New York for most of the year, but every now and then he comes up with a brilliant techie post. His provocatively titled GoogleOS? YahooOS? MozillaOS? WebOS? is well worth a read. Here is my favourite passage, which is on the tantelizing thread of using the open source Mozilla web browser as the base for a Web OS:

"If Mozilla could leverage the rapidly increasing user base of Firefox and start bundling a small Web server with it, then you've got the beginnings of a WebOS that's open source and for which anyone, including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and anyone with JavaScript chops, could write applications. To market it, they could refer to the whole shebang as a new kind of Web browser, something that sets it apart from IE, a true "next generation" browser capable of running applications no matter where you are or what computer (or portable device) you're using."

That's a wrap for another week!

[Read/Write Web]
12:57:57 PM    comment []

Ziff Davis Video Game Survey: Mobile Gaming Doubles Again. According to Ziff Davis Media's annual Digital Gaming in America survey of more than 1,500 randomly selected U.S. households, cell phone gaming continued its meteoric rise in 2005: the number of households engaged in cell phone gaming nearly doubled again,... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:53:05 PM    comment []

Warhammer 40,000 goes mobile. Nokia, Games Workshop and THQ Wireless today announced the debut of the highly successful Warhammer 40,000 franchise to the N-Gage platform with Warhammer 40,000: Glory in Death. The highly acclaimed classic tabletop strategy game from Games Workshop has been produced... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:52:18 PM    comment []

Bluetooth has mobile gamers fighting tooth & nail. Human intelligence versus artificial intelligence âo[per thou] that was the basic premise of all mobile games. It was intelligence all right, but was still artificial. Though there existed technologies before, that allowed gamers to play against each other in real... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:51:06 PM    comment []

The top Two (2) reason why people are into mobile gaming - To kill time or to alleviate boredom. A new report published by The NPD Group indicated that half of all USA wireless subscribers now own mobile phones capable of downloading games. A full 27% play games using their mobile phones, including purchased downloads as well as free... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:50:00 PM    comment []

Time Warner bets on mobile games. Media conglomerate Time Warner has made a $7.5 million investment in Glu Mobile, the privately held mobile gaming company said Tuesday. In a move related to the investment, Andy Heller, president of domestic distribution for Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, has... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:48:44 PM    comment []

Gaming Goes Mobile: Issues and Implications. Mark Finn has writen quite an intresting paper on the mobile gaming market and trends. The paper aims to investigate the industrial and social implications of mobile gaming, by bringing together some of the current research on both mobile communications... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:47:26 PM    comment []

Telephia Reports 30 Percent of Mobile Game Titles Drive 80 Percent of Revenue from the Mobile Games Category. Telephia, the leading provider of performance measurement information to the mobile industry, today reports that nearly 30 percent of mobile game titles account for 80 percent of mobile game revenue. According to the latest data from Telephia's monthly Mobile Game... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:46:36 PM    comment []

MFORMA Takes You Back With New Mobile Game -- California Games. MFORMA Group, Inc., the leading global publisher and distributor of mobile entertainment, has released California Games, a retro collection of fun, summer beach games to play on your mobile phone, based on the EPYX smash hit console game of the... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:45:53 PM    comment []

Flash Mobile for Games. Is the future of mobile games in Flash? Who will tell... At IndiaGames they seem to have things well under control ;) Read on ...... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:44:57 PM    comment []

Nokia Game 20Lives kicks off on September 19. Nokia introduces a captivating new interactive adventure, Nokia 20Lives, following the highly popular Nokia Game. Nokia 20Lives presents a next generation online and mobile experience, combining elements from games, movies, fashion and music business. Starting on September 19, participants... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
12:44:24 PM    comment []

Nike iD. nikeidperson345

Okay, so they’re no haute couture, but training shoes are essential items of the wardrobe for your sporting interests. NikeiD gives you the opportunity to design a pair of Nike trainers, personalised just for you in case someone else in the country club has a pair almost similar. While you can make an appointment at NikeiD in Manhattan, it’s probably easier to do it all on their website.

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

12:42:51 PM    comment []

How-to: download new tracks to your PSP via WiFi. Dot tunes PSP

This could come in handy to swap out some new tunes on the go. The how-to essentially involves a shareware application called Dot Tunes to serve your iTunes library over the web. The interface includes a method for downloading new tracks, so you can suck down new tunes to your PSP from the local wifi coffee shop or wherever.

[Thanks, Mark]

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12:36:15 PM    comment []

Retro look at expensive computer gaming systems.

MoneyWith all the buzz about Gamestop’s super stupid Xbox 360 game bundles there’s been a lot of speculation that the packages are the most expensive in the history of video games. Well, I had an inkling that this was probably a bit naive. So I dusted off my retro gaming books and loaded up Firefox and set off in search of the most expensive video gaming systems. Suprisingly, some of the most expensive systems were the most popular and groundbreaking. So here’s the list with the prices at the time of release as well as prices adjusted for inflation, as they would be today. I used The Inflation Calculator to help me with price conversions. The main references I used were “High Score: The Illustrated History of Electronic Video Games” and Wikipedia.org.


The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer - $920.36 (originally valued at $699.99 in 1993)

3DO console 225px

This games console was the result of a partnership between Panasonic, Sanyo and Goldstar. The console featured an advanced feature set for the time, which was largely under utilised by games developers. All the titles of note were ports from other games platforms. This is a good example of where sticker shock really did put people off; $700 (or nearly $1000 today) was too much for people to pay for such an unoriginal game collection. The one legacy that the console left behind was the start of many of game franchises by EA and Crystal Dynamics. Whilst the system completely flopped, franchises such as Fifa, Need for Speed, Soul Reaver and Gex made their debut on the console, which later led to extended franchises on other (more popular) 32-bit consoles.

Neo Geo - $966.77 (originally valued at $650 in 1990)

Neo Geo


The Neo Geo, released in 1990 by Japanese game company SNK, was technologically years ahead of its time. It features colorful 2D graphics and high quality sound at the level of arcade machines of the day. However, there was a downside, the price. At just under $1000 of today’s money, the Neo Geo was an outrageously expensive console. It also featured cartridges that would cost $300 dollars today ($200 then). The console gained a niche following of rich gamers that could afford to buy the console and the games. The main innovation was memory sticks that players could plug into arcade versions of the console, which they could save to, take home and continue on their own console. Neo Geos still reach relatively high prices on eBay.

Commodore 64 - $1207.04 (originally valued at $595 in 1982)

Commodore 64

Despite being the most popular computer model of all time, selling between 17 and 25 million units, the Commodore 64 was a relatively expensive games machine by today’s standards. However, it offered extremely good value for money by offering unprecedented sound and graphics quality. Around 10,000 titles were created for the computer, including thousands of video games. Even today it has an established following, with several emulators for multiple platforms in development. The C64 would win the prize for best price/performance ratio ever.

Apple II with 48KB RAM - $8560.26 (originally valued at $2638 in 1977)

Apple II

Ironically this system was extremely popular due to it’s low price, relative to the computers of the day. It was the first time middle class families could actually afford a computer. Like it or not PC lovers, this computer practically single handedly created the personal computer gaming market, inspiring home computer/gaming systems like the Commodore 64. Apple Computer itself released some popular titles, like versions of Hangman, Breakout and the popular ‘Adventure’ game. Steve Jobs’ and Steve Wozniak’s experiences at the early Atari helped make the Apple II such a popular gaming machine.

PDP-1 with SpaceWar! - $760,410.51 (originally valued at $120,000 in 1960)

PDP-1 Spacewar

This $760k behemoth tops our chart as the most expensive video gaming system of all time. Later on in 1971, Nolan Bushnell created a coin-op version of Spacewar called Computer Space. A series of events with this space game led to him founding the revolutionary game company Atari. Of course there were dozens of university computers used to create games, but Spacewar was the first. It also set the groundwork for game creation today. Spacewar was derived as a way of taxing the MIT super computer as well as demonstrating a consistent framework in a pleasurable and active way. You could say that today’s games creation is carried out with exactly the same aims. Game developers are still trying to fully utilise the hardware of their chosen platform, whilst creating bigger and more diverse game worlds all the time keeping the game fun and active! So was the $120,000 that MIT paid for the computer worth it? Well since the Spacewar title developed for the computer kicked off a several billion dollar industry over the proceeding 40 years, I’d say so!

[Update: Due to a reader’s request I’ve put up a preliminary listing of systems with their prices at release and their prices today. I wasn’t originally planning on putting this with this article but whatever! I’ll add any extra numbers that people want put in, so submit your numbers to the comments thread. Make sure to head over to The Inflation Calculator and calculate how much it’s worth today.]

[Update #2: Added Neo Geo]

Year of Release
 SystemOriginal Price US$
Price Today US$
 1972Maganavox Odyssey
 1976Fairchild VES
169.95 583.47 
 1977Atari 2600 200
 1979Atari 800
 1981VIC-20 299.99
 1982Commodore 64595 1207.04 
 1985NES 299.99 512.19 
 1986Sega Master System 200 342.6 
 1989TurboGrafx 16199.99 311.73 
 1990Sega Mega Drive

Neo Geo






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12:34:54 PM    comment []

Akinori Oishi.

I went crazy when I discovered his wonderful Opniyama last year (turn the sound on), now i'm having a great time going through Akinori Oishi's series of micro films.

dance.gif fly.gif leaf.gif

His interactive graphics Le Petit Bonhomme are on show till September 25, at Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media.

[we make money not art]
12:31:03 PM    comment []

mlle. malaprop, the proxy server that suffers from Alzheimer.

mlle. malaprop (english version) is a female proxy server affected by Alzheimer. She suffers from the first symptom of Alzheimer: aphasia, i.e. a dysfunction of the usage of language that arises from forgetting words, especially those that were learned rather late.

brsma1.jpg brsma.jpg

mlle. malaprop is very old and she only speaks German. She has forgotten all the words she learned after 1900, so she replaces every word she doesn't know with the word in her mind that is most similar to it. The basis for her word memory is the first edition of the dictionary of the German language by Konrad Duden, published in 1880. All the words that are not featured in it are lost to mlle. malaprop.

Her malapropistic anachronistic method of filling the blanks of her mental dictionary is achieved by an algorithm that replaces every word of a website that cannot be found in the Duden dictionary of 1880 by one that is featured in it and that is similar in an orthographic, phonetic or morphologic way.

By Sascha Brossmannand Thomas Goldstrasz.

[we make money not art]
12:29:40 PM    comment []

Who owns the acres on the moon?.

As part of George Bush's push to revisit the Moon by 2018, Nasa is using the Hubble Space Telescope to scout possible locations for a moon base where humans can live, work and breathe.


While there is no law in space, a claim of ownership has been made by US entrepreneur Dennis Hope, who in 1980 spotted a loophole in the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty. Plots have been put up for sale ever since. Thus in the 18 months since Bush's announcement, he has received numerous letters from lunar property owners, which typically read thus:

"I do worry that the future space station might be built on my lot. So I would like to inform you that I might allow the US government to do so, but only if I am paid for that area. If this should happen, I would be ready to enter into negotiations with the US officials."

UN lawyers say Hope's claim is without merit. But Lunar Embassy has sold nearly £5m worth of plots, with 3.4m owners worldwide, including Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, the Pope, George W Bush and 30 Nasa employees.

Via archinect < BBC News.

[we make money not art]
12:28:36 PM    comment []

Facebook: Pouty-mouth poses for narcoleptic dudes. Xeni Jardin: The Los Angeles Times invited me to contribute a commentary about the popular student networking site Facebook. It ran today, and here's a snip:

You could describe Facebook.com as a digital yearbook, or the Internet equivalent of Greek T-shirts on frat brothers.

But most dead-tree yearbooks don't have 3.6 million members or party construction systems. Real-world sororities don't have names such as "Alpha Mega Pimpin," "The Divine Innocence of Jessica Simpson" or "I Just Tried to Ford the River and My [Fucking] Oxen Died," in homage to the 1980s video game "Oregon Trail."

Facebook does. And it conquered college America instantly.

Like its paper predecessors, the site provides students with tools to stay in touch, proclaim school pride and scrawl in-jokes next to head shots. Pouty-mouth glamour puss is the favored female photo pose. Male portraits often capture narcoleptic undergrads mid-kegger, adorned with live animals, football-foam headgear âo[per thou] or other narcoleptic undergrads.

But a glance at growth stats shows that as membership spreads âo[per thou] faster than strep-throat bugs at a spin-the-bottle session âo[per thou] the service is becoming a popular extension of real life at campuses across the country.


Previously -- Facebook: just poke me

Reader comment: Ian says,

A group of Northeastern University students made a commentary on Facebook as part of Campus Movie Fest 2005 in Boston, MA. Their submission didn't win the contest, but it did make it to the finals. It's another good example of how Facebook has cemented itself as a part of campus life. Link

Denise Nelson Nash of Caltech University in Pasadena, CA tells BB,

[Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg will be speaking at Caltech on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 8 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium. He will be sharing his thoughts on the future of thefacebook and digital interactive yearbooks. Link to event info.
[Boing Boing]
12:26:32 PM    comment []

First PSP beta-test apps taken online via the PSP browser. First PSP align=

Since they’ve already begun public beta testing for SOCOM 3 for the PS2, it>Sony’s PlayStation Underground elite (i.e., the Gamer Advisory Panel) received e-mail invites to register for the first PSP>SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo, and with a little over two months until its November 8 release date, the team at SCEA’s going to need all the help they can get if they want to really make waves with the much hoped for infrastructure multiplayer mode. (That’s playing>the 2.0 firmware updates installed in order to even apply (let along get into the beta itself). If, however, you’re ready with that and have your invitation handy (you did get>http://pspbeta.us.playstation.com and hopefully get started.

I’m sure there are folks out there who’d love to get in on this, but where does that leave me, a guy who doesn’t even own a PSP (but just bought a DS)? It’s hard to say, as I received this e-mail invite despite having never registered a PSP with Sony nor ever indicating that I’d owned>

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12:17:20 PM    comment []

Freitag, 12. August 2005

Mobile games market remains untapped. Just one in twenty (5%) consumers have downloaded a game onto their mobile, with many unsure if their handset is even capable of doing so, according to new research. The consumer study, from mobile games company I-play, interviewed 2,500 mobile... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
11:31:23 AM    comment []

Cosmic Infinity Enters Licensing Agreement With Buena Vista Television for 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire(R)' Mobile Games. Starting today, Verizon Wireless customers with select Get It Now®-enabled phones can take the Hot Seat and face a full onslaught of questions as they climb the ladder to the million dollar question with the new Who Wants To Be... [Mobile Games & Gaming Blog]
11:27:24 AM    comment []

Mittwoch, 10. August 2005

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
5:27:08 PM    comment []

Location Based Super List, courtesy SamC of Daily Wireless.

SamC from Daily Wireless blogged on Meetro.com and assembled such a spectacular list of location based services that I felt obligated to re-blog his post in its entirety here so that those of you foolish enough to NOT HAVE Daily Wireless on your Blogroll don't miss this incredible list. Thanks loads Sam. Really exceptional (and fun!) list.

Meetro is a new location-based
community building software. Using WiFi signals, it is able to discover the
general location of a user without GPS.

City residents are then visually shown exactly who's in their vicinity and
the general interests they share.

The software itself is a free download from www.meetro.com. A
desktop-compatible version has been recently released so people without WiFi
can also get in on the fun.

Other related projects include

Skyhook Wireless, a software-only positioning system (see DailyWireless: Next Generation 911?). They use a nationwide database of known Wi-Fi access points to calculate the precise location of any Wi-Fi device.

The location of any Wi-Fi device can be determined without new hardware.
Skyhook says they created a reference database of over 1.5 million
private and public access points along with their locations. The WPS
client software utilizes this reference database to calculate a
device[base ']s location to within 20-40 meters. The Wi-Fi Positioning System
(WPS) initially is being rolled out in 25 metropolitan areas.
Herecast provides location-based services on a WiFi device.
At its simplest level, it can tell you where you are. More advanced
services can use your location to enhance information lookups, publish
presence information, and create unique games -- all while preserving

uses a symbolic naming system -- instead of using coordinates such as
"42.9875, -81.2915", it expresses your location in terms an ordinary
person would use -- for example, the name of the building. Every
wireless access point broadcasts a unique identifier, which can be used
to tell it apart from other access points. That identifier can also be
used as a "landmark" to identify a particular location.

Quarterscope's Wi-Fi positioning technology, is a similar GPS replacer. Wi-Fi Planet has the scoop on Quarterscope and their Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS). It calculates the position of a client in a manner similar to other Wi-Fi positioning developers such as PanGo Networks, Newbury Networks, Bluesoft and Ekahau.

Location Based Services might also develop around some of these (free) software packages:

Directions Magazine has a series of articles on mobile location-based services and content. Other magazines include Geospatial-Online, Geo World, GPS World and Wireless DevNet.

Here's a great list of innovative mobile projects. Hacking Google Maps has become a professional endeavor.
[Thanks, Nigel Ballard]

Nokia Launches Smartphone Mobile Search Tools.

SlashPhone reports that Nokia has launched a new set up tools bringing search directly to their 6680, 6681 and 6620 series smartphones.

The announcement indicates that the service will be bundled with all new purchases and can be downloaded if you already own one of these phones.

This is the kind of step that I think a lot of people have been waiting for. As Russell Buckley of Mobhappy has said here before I took over, if it's anymore complicated than how you do things already people won't do it. Making mobile search convenient and FAST are the two components necessary to encourage wide-spread adoption and use.

Once people learn that they can find what they're looking for quickly, easily and without paying extra or waiting on hold for an operator, we'll really see this space heat up, but it won't be until voice commands are useful for entering data for mobile search that this technology will replace operator services. After all, people shouldn't do what I do and text to SMS GOOGL or 4INFO while driving in Los Angeles rush hour traffic...

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
5:25:49 PM    comment []

Mobile Porn Swells in Europe.

Informa Telecoms and Media's newest report, Mobile Adult Services predicts:

The [European] market for erotic content for mobile devices is predicted to be worth USD2.3bn by 2010, but realization of this is highly dependent on mobile phone carriers and content providers working with regulators in order to determine solid controls and age verification procedures.

Here's what I know...in the US where we've yet to see any real substantial penetration (yes, pun intended) of pornography into the mobile space, I can still gauge interest in simple ways. For example, even though there are hundreds of other posts on this blog that I believe are of more immediate value to the regular readers than comments on mobile porn, the traffic for these posts is dramatically higher on average and not from the usual sources.

This means people are actively searching for mobile pornography. Of course it's only a matter of time before an MVNO gets in the game with a heavily adult themed product. Hopefully, as stated above, when this happens, they'll at least do a decent job of controlling subscriber access by conducting age verification. We can also hope that people will exercise good judgment about when they display their collections.

Films and even magazines lend themselves to more private viewing opportunities; mobile phones could prove a bit more problematic. There are plenty of folks out there I'm sure that wouldn't appreciate one guy (why is it always us guys?) enjoying his 2 inch screen while riding the 9 from Union Square to Central Park...

One last note; although there are plenty of articles ABOUT mobile pornography, in a quick search on Google I didn't come across any sites that I could download or access via my phone and get myself into trouble.

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
5:24:28 PM    comment []

First Excerpt. This post will be the first of a number of excerpts from my book. Over the next month I'll post as many as I can. This first one is from a chapter I wrote on Bill Gross, who has founded many search companies (his latest is Snap), but Overture (nee GoTo nee Yahoo Search Marketing) was his biggest hit. I think Bill makes for one of the best stories in the book, and I hope I did him justice. This is a small portion of the chapter, titled "A Billion Dollars, One Nickel at a Time." Each chapter in the book is broken into sections, this excerpt starts with a section, about a third of the way through the chapter, which focuses on Gross's early insights into market economics. As with all things book related, I look forward to your feedback and clarifications/corrections. The Sugar Daddy: It’s All About Arbitrage When he was twelve, Gross lived in an apartment building in Encino, California, outside of Los Angeles. There were hundreds of kids in that complex, Gross recalls. “We all roller-skated together, played baseball together, swam together, did everything together,” he tells me. And when they had saved up enough money, they all made the pilgrimage to a local pharmacy, where they’d buy their fix of candy. “We used to hop the cinder-block wall surrounding the complex and go buy candy for a dime at the West Valley Medical Center,” he recalls. “We’d go there all the time.” Now here’s where it gets interesting. In Gross’s words: “One day I was at Savon [pronounced Save-on] on Ventura Boulevard and saw they had a special on candy, three for a quarter. So I bought five dol- lars worth—at eight and a third cents each—and brought them back to my apartment, where... [John Battelle's Searchblog]
5:23:10 PM    comment []

Microsoft debuts RSS in IE7 Beta 1.

Jane Kim, program manager for RSS in Internet Explorer, has written a useful post detailing the new RSS features in IE7. A few comments from me...

1) Microsoft has decided to call RSS "web feeds", at least for now. Jane says they're "still actively exploring what is the right name to use for RSS feeds". Although I agree that end users need not be concerned with knowing what RSS is - they just need to see the benefits of syndication and subscribing to information - I don't think 'web feeds' is any clearer than 'RSS'. Personally I think RSS and its orange branding has gotten too much traction on the Web already and it's too late to change it now.

Don't mess with the brand Microsoft - it's bigger than you. Even the Atom proponents admit that RSS is the brand name.

2) Discovery: "If a web feed is found, the web feed button on the toolbar lights up." Additionally it can play a sound. Bing! This is good stuff - it will help promote RSS feeds to normal Web users if it is highlighted in this manner. Apparently publishers will be able to control this setting. Naturally the user also can tweak their browser settings.

3) That format thing: "Beta 1 of Windows Vista and IE 7 for XP currently supports the web feed formats RSS .9x, RSS 1.0, and RSS 2.0. As Sean mentioned, Atom 0.3 and Atom 1.0 support will come in a later release."

I suppose the Atom folks will be slightly miffed. But how many feed-enabled blogs and websites don't have at least one varient of RSS .9x-2? (I actually don't know the answer to that, so someone feel free to enlighten me).

4) IE7 will display a browser-friendly version of the RSS feed - much like Feedburner does with my RSS feed. Again, this is a good way to make sure RSS gets adopted by the mainstream.


Not a bad start by Microsoft. It doesn't appear they have all the functionality they promised at Gnomedex ready to roll out yet - e.g. there was no mention of support for Simple List Extensions. This Beta 1 seems to be aimed at users, rather than developers. Having said that, there was also little mention of the RSS Reader functionality that IE7 will have. I expect we'll hear more soon.

[Read/Write Web]
11:57:41 AM    comment []

53 million pages licensed.

Yesterday Yahoo! announced that their search index had grown to 20 billion documents. That, along with continued adoption of Creative Commons licenses, explains 53 million linkbacks to our licenses according to Yahoo! linkback queries. In May, when Yahoo!'s index apparently consisted of 8 billion documents, we found 16 million pages with license links. So discounting the growth of Yahoo!'s index, the number of Creative Commons license links have increased by approximately one third in the past three months alone -- 53/(16*(20/8)) = 1.325. Take the exact numbers with a lump of salt, but the indication of growth is impressive nonetheless.

You can search for Creative Commons licensed content at Yahoo! Search for Creative Commons.

[Creative Commons Blog - rss]
11:54:18 AM    comment []

Stock Market Dependant Self-Watering Plant.

sportplant.jpgIn most cases I would naturally say an idea like this would be completely worthless, but this only escapes the grasps of worthlessness by being an extremely cool. This plant, purchased at Home Depot is controlled by the stock fluctuations that the Home Depot stock is taking. Once a week a wifi adapter checks the stock and sends the data to electronic components that controls the watering. The idea is if the stock were to go low enough that the plant dies, then the plant is simply returned back to Home Depot and replaced free of charge thanks to their unconditional plant guarantee.

Rubber tree plant's health tied to Home Depot's stock price [BoingBoing]

11:52:50 AM    comment []

eBay Deal of the Day: WiFi Speed Spray.

sprayer.gifSomebody is making something up, I think. However, anything scientific has to be true, including intelligent design, so this stuff must work. But don't take our word for it.

As your computer sends data, each bit also carries hundreds of invisible WiFi Speed Spray™ "scrubbing" molecules. It works at the speed of light. and even penetrates lead walls (not even Superman can do that!). Within .0025 seconds, the entire path between you and the receiver is cleaned, scrubbed, polished, and sanitized. You'll notice the improvement immediately as your productivity soars!

I could use some increased productivity. I could also use a beer. [Thanks, Scott]

Wi-Fi Speed Spray DramaticalIy Increase Data Throughput [eBay]

11:51:22 AM    comment []

Mobile search is the new black - Roundup.

A quick roundup from Engadget on the mobile search space, with relevant links:

-- Google SMS âo[per thou] basic Google searches via SMS, includes local search
-- Google mobile web âo[per thou] searches only sites formatted for mobile devices
-- Yahoo SMS
-- Yahoo mobile âo[per thou] mobile version of the Yahoo portal, with web, image and local search
-- Nokia Mobile Search - Nokia has released their Mobile Search software for certain Nokia smartphones
-- Mobile AOL search
-- Technorati mobile
-- 4info.net âo[per thou] local info, stock quotes, sports scores, movie times

More mobile searches posted by readers in the Comment section

[Smart Mobs]
11:47:28 AM    comment []

Worldwide wonder.

The 10th birthday of the internet as a mass phenomenon is rightly being celebrated this week to mark a decade since the explosive stock market debut of Netscape, which triggered the dot.com boom and unleashed a friendly browser to navigate the web. The Guardian reports.

To understand the extraordinary revolution that swept the world so quickly, existing users need simply to imagine what life would now be like without email (on which corporate life depends), search engines such as Google, web companies such as Amazon, eBay and Yahoo, the ongoing explosion of online commerce, not to mention the burgeoning world of personal journals (blogs), downloaded music and films, free newspapers, web cameras, internet telephony (now the hottest thing on the web) and the growing convergence of the net and mobile phones.

... Although, contrary to the instincts of its early protagonists, the web has long since been colonised by commerce, it still nurtures its founding community spirit.


[Smart Mobs]
11:46:22 AM    comment []


[Thanks David!]

Inspired by a mobile social network system named Dodgeball, UK-based Buddyping also brings social networking to mobile communications:

If you're out on the town and want to find your friends, use buddyPing and your mobile phone (or the internet) to broadcast your whereabouts and to receive notification of your friends in the same area.

Just log into buddyPing (either via text message or using the "Your Location" feature once you have logged in via the web site) and we will scan your designated local area for friends and notify you of their location. We'll also notify them of your location so all your friends can find out what you're up to and where they can join you. This all happens in real time, and will continue until you logout of buddyPing.

[Smart Mobs]
11:45:02 AM    comment []

Seeing that link's performance on del.icio.us.

Michal Migurski of Stamen Design has this site that gives a "visual analysis of del.icio.us popular links.The collection of stripes are a near real-time cumulative view of popular sites posted to the del.icio.us social bookmarking service,arranged left-to-right as old-to-new,in the order of first appearance.Color refers to relative growth (green) or decay (red) of the site's popularity on that day.Selecting a color chip shows a small graph of that link's performance over the previous month".

vox delicii

[Smart Mobs]
11:42:49 AM    comment []

RFID: To Tag or Not to Tag. Companies and government agencies increasingly use radio frequency identification technology to track products and people, and RFID opponents say it poses privacy risks. Here's what the technology is all about. By Kim Zetter. [Wired News]
11:38:41 AM    comment []

Sorting the Uproar Over Downloads. It seems like Hollywood won in the Grokster ruling, but the file-sharing universe will be largely unaffected, at least for a while. What the federal ruling against Grokster really means. By Jeff Howe from Wired magazine. [Wired News]
11:36:56 AM    comment []

Outside-In. Another prototype from Promise Design, Phytoslim is a modular system for growing plants on walls. Its slim panels are made of coconut fibers and supported by a hidden plastic skeleton. The 2"-thick pieces supposedly attach to any surface, indoor or out, vertical or horizontal. Although we're absolutely smitten with the idea of a grass-covered... By noemail@noemail.org (Parker Hutchinson). [Cool Hunting]
11:34:09 AM    comment []

Henk Suitca....Stuff Container.

henk.jpgAccording to the product page, this is "No Suitcase." So what is this? Maybe a $28,000 footrest? Well after further investigation, this is a container that holds a lot of stuff to be carried around easily. It also fits a briefcase inside it, so it's maybe a briefcase holder. It’s made out of carbon fiber, titanium, magnesium, aluminum and is easily carried onto an airplane. Bah, I don’t care what the Henk website says; this is a fancy suitcase, period.

The Henk [Cool Hunting]

11:23:21 AM    comment []

Mittwoch, 20. Juli 2005

Mobile GMaps for Java/J2ME phones.

 Demoimage The mobile geoweb comes another step closer with Mobile GMaps: (Via freegorifero)

Mobile GMaps is a free piece of software that displays Google Maps and Keyhole satellite imagery on Java J2ME-enabled mobile phones or other devices.

Mobile GMaps is distributed under the Attribution/NonCommercial/NoDerivs
Creative Commons license. You may download, use and distribute the application free of charge for non-commercial purposes. You may NOT use it for any commercial purpose.
[Smart Mobs]
11:54:40 AM    comment []

Home Egg McMuffin machine
I've never actually eaten an Egg McMuffin, but as it's from McDonald's, I'm sure it's delicious and disgusting and terrible for you. Now you can make those unhealthy breakfast treats in your own home at drive-through speed. Back to Basic's new Egg & Muffin toaster simultaneously toasts your English muffins or bagel while poaching (or steam scrambling) an egg and warming up a sausage or a slice of ham (as long as it's pre-cooked or you're in for a nasty, warm but raw surprise). I suppose you melt the processed cheese food in your microwave to complete the McMuffin experience.

I want one of these for making other things like Eggs Benedict. The round egg steamer would make perfectly shaped poached eggs. I kind of love the idea of having one appliance that cooks several things at once so they'll be ready at the same time.

The Egg & Muffin toaster will be available in September for $49.95. Back to Basics products are usually available in most of the big appliance or electronics retail stores like Target. - Mia [Popgadget: Personal Tech for Women]
11:53:59 AM    comment []

Unlocking the Mobile Phones Gaming Potential.

Frequently the most astute viewpoints are those that come from people seeing things from a different vantage point. Tonight's post is a prime example. Mobile gaming, in spite of its growing popularity and billion-dollar annual revenue generation is still in its naissance. Today's games as others, including Russell Buckley have pointed out, are typically just scaled back versions of games that we play on PC's or gaming specific handheld devices.

As Greg Costikyan points out in his post that the celular phone is disappointing as a gaming device in light of the realization and execution of the games that have been developed to date, and that further, the games which could be developed have potential to be far different, far more engaging, and even far more viral than anything we have seen yet.

THere is an important caveat however. As Greg points out; the significant attributes of the phone; its primary function as a communications device, the fact that your "REAL BUDDY LIST" is your address book, and yet none of these functions can be accessed and used to advantage by the developers of the current crop of games.

It's fascinating to consider what he says, and I highly recommend reading the execpt below and paying a visit to his site to get the full treatment; it should open the eyes of developers and operators alike.

This is a somewhat edited version of a presentation I gave at Nokia Research Center's Game Day, an internal Nokia event, two days ago--redacted mainly to remove anything that might be considered Nokia confidential... But I think the basic thesis is something worth thinking about more generally.)

In five short years, we've gone
from b&w static browser games via WAP to full-motion, full-color
3D. And we've gone from basically zero in revenues to $1b globally. And
good for us. But....

This has basically been built on the basis
of interpreted language environments (BREW and J2ME) that provide the
capability to emulate existing game styles, and whose security models
make it difficult, often impossible, to access most of the features on
a mobile phone.

In essence, we've been using mobile phones as
inferior GameBoys--and that's apparently enough to build a $1b market,
and growing. But while there have been a handful of interesting
attempts to do things you can't do on other devices (like Botfighters), we haven't seen many successful games that do something novel and interesting with mobile as a platform.

Forget about games for a moment: What makes mobile devices different?

Well, for one thing, they are first and foremost voice communication devices. And they store quite a lot of information about your circle of friends and business contacts, in the phone book. Along with a datebook (which most people don't use, but some do, particularly on higher-end phones where they can hotsynch to an Outlook calendar). They are personalized devices--people add ring tones, screenery, and images of friends so they can see a pic when someone calls. And they're networked--as computing devices, they may be primitive, analogous to (say) pre-Pentium computers, but early home PCs weren't networked until comparatively recently.

From a user perspective, they are
primarily social devices, used to keep in touch with friends, family,
and business contacts, mainly via voice and texting.

The early success of mobile games as a business has been built on simply enabling existing video game styles. But remember that "the video game" is a subset of "the game," dependent essentially on a video display screen attached to a computer. A mobile device is, today, a (tiny) video display screen attached to an (underpowered) computer that is used for social purposes, enables voice communication, is personalized, and contains information about the user's social circle. In other words, we can conceive of a different category of game, something we might call the "mobile game" that may bear some connection to the "video game," but depends ultimately on the differences between mobile devices and PCs, rather than attempting to simply imitate the video game.

I'm not going to be so foolish as to try to predict what this "true mobile game" might be like--indeed, I suspect there are many as-yet undiscovered game styles that could be commercially successful as "mobile games." But to be true mobile games, they need to be able to take advantage of what mobile devices can do.

Here, however, is the kicker: The technology that, today, allows us to build games for mobile devices, does not allow us to access the other features of mobile handsets. You want to use voice? You can't--a mobile phone can make a voice connection or

a data connection, not both at once. You want to access the phone book? You can't--the phone book is its own application, in splendid isolation from any others operating on the handset. You want to access personalization information? No can do. You want to use the network? You're stuck with HTTP (usually) which, together with a G2 network, means you need to plan for 3+ second latency.

Here are some use cases to illustrate what I mean:

see what he means by going

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
11:51:42 AM    comment []

Electronic Arts Launches Massive Mobile Assault; Jamdat Threatened?.

Wow...it's almost "deja vu all over again" or at least that's what Yogi Berra would say...

That's how I felt, anyway, after reading the news that Electronic Arts, the PC Gaming Giant had inked deals with Verizon and Sprint to provide a slew of new high performance video games for the mobile handset.

NEW YORK, July 18 (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless and Sprint two of the biggest U.S. mobile providers, plan to offer their customers video games from Electronic Arts Inc. , the companies said on Monday.

Electronic Arts shares were up slightly on the news, while shares of rival JAMDAT Mobile Inc. ( which specializes in mobile games, saw its shares drop more than 4 percent.

"It indicates a potential for increasing competition against JAMDAT,"
said Moors & Cabot analyst Jason Willey. He said the Electronic
Arts deals were not surprising but may have dampened recent rumors that
the company might buy JAMDAT.

Willey estimated that JAMDAT leads
the U.S. mobile gaming market with a 15 percent to 20 percent share,
while Electronic Arts has a share of less than 5 percent.

phone gaming is one of the fastest-growing segments of the video game
industry, and service providers are embracing wireless game downloads
as a additional source of revenue.

What to me was most notable from the release as it related to my post yesterday and the observations made by Greg Costikyan are summarized below...incidentally I have to wonder if Greg is psychic, knew something in advance, or simply understands his field very, very well.

According to the news release; EA games will be available in the Game Lobby by Sprint, a virtual mobile community for gamers to meet, recommend games and challenge each other. It is accessed from both the fixed Internet and the mobile Web by more than 500,000 members and includes many features:

    - Single gamer username across games and publishers

    - Centralized listing of high-score postings

    - Ability for users to manage their identity and determine what information is stored in their profile, such as pictures

    - Opportunity to rate and review games

    - Ability for users to create a buddy list of other members for challenging and instant messaging

    - Option to opt into receive new game alerts

    - Interoperability with other game communities for cross-carrier buddy communication, game ratings and leaderboards

    - The new status points program where users earn points for their activities to enhance the fun, competitive nature of the virtual games community

You can read EA's press releases here.

Though games have been off my list for some time now due to the fact that I tend to become dysfunctionally obsessive until I beat them, I might just have to try one or two of these for...you know...research.

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
11:51:09 AM    comment []

Quick del.icio.us search with Firefox.

Del.icio.us user Daniel Miessler searches del.icio.us bookmarks and tags from the Firefox address bar by typing d searchterm in the Firefox address bar.

Here's how to set it up:

  1. Using Firefox, go to the del.icio.us tags page here (or your del.icio.us bookmarks page, or ANY page with a search box on it.)
  2. Right click inside the search box. Choose "Add a Keyword for this Search."
  3. Set the name to "delicious tags" and the keyword to dt

Now type dt lifehacks into the Firefox address bar, and you will be magically transported to the life hacks del.icio.us tag. Useful!

11:48:06 AM    comment []

Tattooed fruit en route. Xeni Jardin: Produce industry service company Durand-Wayland, Inc. developed a system for identifying produce with laser-etched codes in 2002. These "fruit tattoos" would replace those little stickers that always get stuck in your teeth when you bite into a nice, crisp apple while distracted. The technology's beginning to catch on, according to this NYT story.

A pear is just a pear, except when it is also a laser-coded information delivery system with advanced security clearance. And that is what pears - not to mention organic apples, waxy cucumbers and delicate peaches - are becoming in some supermarkets around the country. A new technology being used by produce distributors employs lasers to tattoo fruits and vegetables with their names, identifying numbers, countries of origin and other information that helps speed distribution. The marks are burned onto the outer layer of the skin and are visible to discerning consumers and befuddled cashiers alike.

Link to NYT article.


[Boing Boing]
11:45:08 AM    comment []

Free Software for Busy People. Cory Doctorow:

Free Software for Busy People is a new book from Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, a Bahraini MD who is on a mission to help information-civilians understand why they should use free/open source software. The book tells the story of six people from six walks of life (government administrator, MD, corporate exec, entrepreneur, Arab teacher, primary school teacher) who adopt free software. The book simply and clearly states the case for adopting free software and provides equally clear and simple explanations of how to switch and what to expect when you get there. You can buy a printed and bound copy of the book, download a PDF, or read it as a hyperlinked html file.


(Thanks, Mohammad!)

[Boing Boing]
11:43:06 AM    comment []

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 4-10 July 2005.

sponsor wanted

A bit of admin before I start. The Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-Up is looking for a new sponsor, now that ThePort Network has completed its sponsorship arrangement with me. Dan Backus from ThePort Network told me they had a lot of positive feedback to the sponsorship and their product offerings - which I was very pleased to hear. I want to thank Dan and ThePort Network for sponsoring me and I wish them all the best with their Web 2.0 product range.

So now I'd like to put a call out for a new sponsor. Please contact me to discuss.

This week: Big events and news on the Web, automatic content for the people, things you can do with RSS, API round-up, Techie Post of the Week: Social principles of Web 2.0.

Big events and news on the Web

It was a tough week for the Western world, when London was struck by a bombing attack. I don't want to use this tragic event as a backdrop for tech talk, but I do think it's noteworthy that the Web has become a crucial tool for news dissemination and discussion nowadays. The Wikipedia page on the London bombings was a comprehensive and thorough work-in-progress as the news unfolded. As was the BBC's Web coverage, so it's not like mainstream media is being run out of business. But it's clear that the Web is a key platform now when it comes to covering big news events - at least on a par with television and newspapers.

So-called social software websites played a big role too. Flickr was used extensively by people to post photos and for discussions. Personally I found myself visiting the sites of bloggers I read who live in London, are British expats and even kiwis who were in London at the time. And when you consider things like the LiveJournal Moodgrapher, which recorded a mood of "sadness and shock" amongst LiveJournalers following the attack, well you realise how integral the Web has become when dealing with such events.

On a less serious note, the Live 8 event was also covered very well on the Web. Indeed, apparently AOL's Web coverage was far superior to MTV's on the television. PaidContent.org quoted this from an AP person: "AOL's coverage was so superior, it may one day be seen as a historical marker in drawing people to computers instead of TV screens for big events." The latest Gillmor Gang has some interesting comments on this, particularly from guest Susan Mernit.

Automatic content for the people

This week I wrote a musing post about the new age of automated content we're seeing on the Web. I looked at (what I deemed to be) both good and bad examples of this phenomenon and concluded that my decisions about such matters are more moral than legal. It turned into a very interesting discussion, which is still open. As I noted in a comment I made later in the thread, my goals for this post were to come to an understanding of:

a) where my own content fits in with this new era of automated websites - I've established that I'm comfortable with sites like Planet Web 2.0 and Memeorandom, and even [Article Bot-generated] Stock Pick Report to a degree; and

b) what things should we, as users of the Web, be wary of in this new era of automation. And I think we should be wary of hundreds of thousands of robot-generated pages that have no redeeming social value for the Web and will clutter up search engine results.

It's a great discussion about Web 2.0 morals and ethics. Join in, the conversation's still happening!

Things you can do with RSS

Tim Yang continues his run of excellent tools and resources - he was the bloke who created the Google News To RSS Scraper called scrappygoo. Now he's come up with a Wiki featuring an extensive list of things you can do with RSS. Things like:

- Track Fedex packages
- Get bargains at Ebay
- Get stock updates
- Get the weather reports
- Find out what people are saying about you, your company, your products
- Track Music, radio shows, TV clips
- Stay updated on someone's schedule
- Get cinema schedule updates
- Read your favourite comics

Check out the wiki for the whole list.

API round-up

But wait, there's more! I also want to highlight Chris Campbell's round-up of APIs (via Eric Lunt). As Chris wrote, "if you're interested in adding to the Web 2.0 goodness, you've got to start understanding APIs." Too right - go check it out!

Techie Post of the Week: Social principles of Web 2.0

Ian Davis (of Planet Web 2.0 fame) wrote a great post about what he calls the Web 2.0 principles of "participation, openness and communication." Here's how he defines this:

"Web 2.0 is an attitude not a technology. It's about enabling and encouraging participation through open applications and services. By open I mean technically open with appropriate APIs but also, more importantly, socially open, with rights granted to use the content in new and exciting contexts."

Obviously this theory has a lot to do with the whole automated content issue I raised this week. Often when we talk of Web 2.0, we mean APIs and RSS and XML and all those other acronyms. But the whole idea of the 'read/write' Web is that everyone can and does contribute thoughts and ideas to the Web. So the social aspects of Web 2.0 - participation, openness, two-way communication - are just as important as the platform and the acronyms. On this I heartily endorse Ian's position.

But we all have a lot of work to do yet, when it comes to defining what is socially acceptable use of content and the Web - and what is not. I myself am still working it out and I'm only just beginning to get comfortable with the idea of other sites re-publishing my writing. The Remix Culture requires a big mindshift for everyone, so we're all figuring it out as we go along.

That's a wrap for another week!

[Read/Write Web]
11:41:55 AM    comment []

Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 11-17 July 2005.

sponsored by:

This week: The future of RSS, Amazon turns 10, Yahoo HotJobs, big bucks for blogging, techie post of the week - RSS systems.

New Sponsor & Special Offer For R/WW Readers

I'm pleased to announce Onfolio as the new sponsor of the Weekly Wrap-Up! To celebrate, Onfolio has a special offer for Read/Write Web readers. The following coupon code entitles the bearer to $30 off a purchase of Onfolio Professional before August 31st, a 30% saving off the normal $99.95 price. To use the coupon, enter it at the time of purchase. Coupon Code: RM857202

RSS Growing Up So Fast

A number of posts came out this week with thoughts on how RSS is evolving and the need for new kinds of feed management tools. VC Fred Wilson thinks centralised RSS Readers (like Bloglines) are on the way out. What's needed, according to Fred, is new ways to manage our feeds and make them available to other apps to use. An example he gives is "applications and services that can use the [RSS] infrastructure that Microsoft is building into the operating system layer to add value." 

Don't miss the comments to Fred's post, there are some excellent points. e.g. Charlie Wood says that Feedburner is a great example of a "value added service" (they would be my prime example too). Heather Green then comments "What I am interested in watching develop are the services that are created on top of RSS, like maybe a service that parses for resumes or job listings."

In a similar vein, Tommy Lee look-a-like Nivi wrote an interesting post entitled RSS is the TCP/IP Packet of Web 2.0. In it he asked: "will RSS become the fundamental building block of Web 2.0 and the Internet Operating System?". See also his follow-up post, featuring an analysis of Jonathan Aquino's "command line for the Web" app YubNub.

Other thought-provoking posts on these themes include David Beisel's musings, Heather Green's The Evolution of RSS, According to Yahoo, and Michael Parekh's theory about "Broadband Content End-Runs". All of this is head-spinning stuff, but well worth pondering if you're interested in finding out how RSS is beginning to outgrow its blogging roots.

Oh and incidentally, Atom (an alternative RSS format) was all but officially released this week. I'll review this further once the techies have finished their latest bout of handbags at ten paces :-)

Amazon Turns 10

Amazon turns 10This week Amazon celebrated its 10th birthday. Amazon is in a way is the quintessential Web 2.0 company, because they've been using the Web as a platform for all of their 10-year existence. They recognized the power of the Read/Write Web before most Internet companies, by inviting their users to contribute reviews and rank products - amongst many other community-enabling features. They were one of the first bigco's to open up their data with APIs and they made it easy for third-party sellers to become affiliates (currently more than a quarter of Amazon's sales are via a third party). Not to mention that Amazon sold products from The Long Tail long before Chris Anderson popularized the term.

And boy did Amazon celebrate in style! They ran promotions for a Hall of Fame, Wish List Spree, Special Deliveries and finished up with A Show of Thanks - a live concert with "Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Bill Maher, Hall of Fame writers, and exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage from the Lord of the Rings trilogy."

nb: I have a post brewing about Amazon's future, which hopefully I'll publish this week.

Yahoo's Job Search Engine

This week Yahoo announced a new "jobs search engine" - and it's a shot across the bow for the online jobs market. Yahoo HotJobs crawls the Web looking for job vacancies and automatically adds them to its index. Although this will probably "cannibalize" its paid listings, it'll also take a big bite out of its two main rivals in this market - Monster and CareerBuilder. 

Forrester analyst Charlene Li predicts that the next big thing in online classifieds is social classifieds, "where the ability to connect people to each other will be the hallmark of success." This is actually already a feature of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and niche market blogs like PaidContent.org.

Professional Blogging Pays Off

My Australian cousin Darren Rowse announced recently that he got a Google Adsense cheque for "between $10k and $20k ($USD)" for the month of May. Holy Gamoly! Darren works extremely hard on writing content for his 20 or so blogs, so full credit to him for the financial rewards.

The income revelation led to a Slashdotting and the inevitable blog-trashing comments from the /. community. But some commenters had good things to say, like this one: "He [Darren] is just an info junkie who has happened to find a way to make a living at his passion."

Professional blogging is different things to different people. For some, it's part of their day job. For me, it's my way of trying to get a day job like those guys ;-). Reputation is my currency in the blogosphere and I'm hoping it pays off in the long run.

Techie Post of the Week: RSS is for creating systems

I'm still spinning my wheels on the future of RSS. Dave Winer wrote an interesting riff on this. Here's an excerpt:

"RSS is more than a format, it's an approach to creating systems. [...] The whole point of RSS, Jim [Moore] argues (imho correctly) is to make connecting systems together so easy that users can do it themselves, without any help from system managers or vendors. This is a brilliant observation, in all my years thinking about RSS, I had never approached it from this direction."

I'm not entirely sure what that means yet, but if Dave says it's a brilliant observation - then obviously the rest of us need to think seriously about it.

That's a wrap for another week!

[Read/Write Web]
11:41:10 AM    comment []

Web 2.0 Sampler.

I'm making yet another attempt at a regular branded list of Web 2.0 links. Let me admit straight up that I've copied the following format from Ypulse, Anastasia Goodstein's excellent site that covers New Media for Generation Y. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as I have discovered, so I thought it's worth giving this a go on my blog.

Mash-Ups Zollage- Mash-Ups the wild wild west of the Web (pretty good business overview of Web 2.0 and Remix Culture - and don't miss the slide show 'Sampling the Web's Best Mash-Ups')
- Steve Rubel wants Microsoft to bet the company on Web 2.0 (in the comments, I pointed to my own analysis of Microsoft and Web 2.0 - in short, I think millions of Windows-run 'devices' will be their interface into Web 2.0)
- Om Malik gets cozy with Marc Andressen (I like Marc's point that new minds and new tech talents will grow in places "we would have never looked before". right on!)
- Latest Harry Potter book digitally pirated within 12 hours (a fully scanned + proofread ebook within 12 hours... I still don't want to read it though) (via waxy)
- More great Tim O'Reilly Web 2.0 quotes (someone advised me recently that I need to work on my "pithy quotes", if I'm to get any mainstream press coverage as an analyst - see Red Herring link below)
- RSS Goes Corporate (I gave some background info for this Red Herring article, but I don't rate a mention)
- You can't sell content online (Mary Hodder says selling services that help manage data and content - such as filtering, search and aggregation - is where the money is)
- Charlie Wood forsees the rise of post-processing feed services, such as inserting ads into feeds. (what's really interesting will be the non-advertising services. e.g. how about more remixing functionality)
- News Corp buys MySpace owner for $580 million (I hadn't realized that mainstream music groups like Black Eyed Peas and R.E.M. streamed their latest releases on MySpace)
- Does MySpace sale signal Web 2.0 peak? (I agree with Adam Rifkin in the comments, it's only just begun!)

[Read/Write Web]
11:40:31 AM    comment []

Web 2.0 Sampler.

The Long Tail - There are 1.2 million feeds in Bloglines that "matter", says Ask Jeeves Blog (meaning at least 1 person subscribes to it. nb: SEW and Niall both point out that some blogs have multiple feeds)
- Feedburner begins to expand into "major media accounts and global relationships" (fulfilling all the hype I lavished onto them in my Best Web 2.0 Companies of 2004 post last year)
- Comparing tech companies to countries (check out the comments - there are some funny comparisons. e.g. "delicious is Chechnya: Comprehensible only to those inside.")
- Profile of Bokee, China's top blogging network (they're planning a "virtual currency", a la Korea's Cyworld, which will enable Bokee bloggers to charge their readers)
- Study finds usability issue with blogs (if you're a blog consultant, the PDF report is well worth pondering)
- Tony Gentile tells us to expect continued integration in Yahoo's network (yes the social networking, aggregation, RSS, media, etc pieces are all coming together quite nicely for Yahoo)
- PaidContent.org on Yahoo's Silicon Valley and Hollywood goings-on (see also WSJ.com and Om Malik)
- Greasemonkey has a serious security flaw (Mark Pilgrim sounded the warning and the Greasemonkey blog has details)
- Slashdot community debates the future of Firefox (as one commenter said, "I want to know how firefox devs plan to address security concerns with the browsers.")
- Backing up your Gmail account (use pop3 or the auto-forward feature)

nb: The photo of the dog and its long tail is from Anil Dash's Flickr photo stream.

[Read/Write Web]
11:40:00 AM    comment []

Papercraft Howl's Moving Castle. Cory Doctorow:

On a Miyazaki message-board, fans are discussing and linking to two magnificent papercraft models of Howl's Moving Castle (from the film of the same name). One is a free download (though, bizarrely, it is a PDF in a Windows self-extracting archive, ugh) while the other is a $50+ book.


(Thanks, Jesse!)

[Boing Boing]
11:34:53 AM    comment []

Dienstag, 19. Juli 2005

NEC debuts Litebird mobile router for high-speed access on the road.

bullet trainWe spend more time than we like on commuter trains, and we’ve gotten used to the vagaries of wireless access on the move. Though solutions like EV-DO and EDGE are adequate, we still long for the kind of reliable, sustained connection that makes you forget you’re sitting in a sardine can. While T-Mobile has started hooking up London-bound commuter trains, it looks like the next big step is coming from — no surprise — Japan, where the trains are faster, cleaner and are actually used by a majority of commuters. NEC is working on a new mobile router, the Litebird, designed specifically to be used in moving vehicles. According to the company, the Litebird can offer connectivity at 6 Mbps in vehicles going up to 125 mph. NEC is a little vague about how Litebird actually works, saying it offers “seamless roaming” by using mobile IP technology. This would make it a different solution than what T-Mobile is offering in London, which is basically a network of train-based hotspots that works with base stations positioned along the tracks. It also makes NEC’s routers usable in a range of vehicles, and the company is already planning to offer it for ambulances and other emergency-response vehicles.

Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments
© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

4:53:02 PM    comment []

Scottish group develops e-paper prototype.

epaperHere’s yet another group working on e-paper, for those of you keeping score at home: a team at Scotland’s Paisley University Thin Film Centre has produced a working prototype of what they say is a working e-paper prototype, which can download info into a lightweight, high-contrast device that the developers refer to as “cheap and flexible.” The research is being funded by DuPoint-Teijin Films and plastic electronics developer Plastic Logic. As with other similar projects, we assume this one is a long way from developing anything that can be commercialized. For the record, though, it’s worth noting that the local paper, The Scotsman, has breathlessly declared this to be a “potentially life-changing creation.”

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© 2005 Weblogs, Inc.

4:51:58 PM    comment []

The Engadget Interview: Blake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media. For this week’s Engadget Interview, veteran journalist J.D. Lasica spoke with Sling Media CEO Blake Krikorian about the rollout of the Slingbox, its disruptive effects on Hollywood business models, the notions of place-shifting and personal broadcasting, and an announcement he’s making right here on Engadget about support for a new operating system.

Blake KrikorianThis week I’ll be combining my questions with a few that our readers have posted on the site.

I saw those, and I was like, “Wow! Pretty impressive.”

Let’s start with the basics. How many employees do you have, where are you located, and when did Sling Media get started?

We have 30 to 40 folks. We’re headquartered in San Mateo in the Bay Area, as well as in Bangalore, India. We merged with DiTango a year ago.

How did you get interested in this space personally?

Myself and several other folks on the team have been in this digital convergence space for about 15 years. I started out in this field at a company called General Magic—a spinout from Apple—back in the early 90s. We were out to create an operating system and programming language for a variety of devices as well as a new electronic marketplace. This is before the Web came along.

Where did the idea for the Slingbox come from?

Five years before founding Sling Media, I had a company with my brother Jason called id8 Group Holdings. We were advising many large, established companies in this convergence space: Microsoft, Samsung, Toshiba. We helped them define new products. We were traveling quite a bit in the summer of 2002 and we were pretty diehard San Francisco Giants fans. That was the year they finally wound up going to the Series, before falling apart in the sixth game. We were on the road and just dying to watch the ballgames.

I signed up to hear the Giants on Real before I discovered that the fine print said you couldn’t listen to your local teams. Then I was on CNN.com and once again there was a virtual hand reaching out to ask for another $10 a month. Then I got a new mobile phone with video services for another $10 a month. But none of them gave me what I wanted to watch: the Giants, or Comedy Central, or any of my shows.

I said, you know, I’m paying $80 a month for cable, and for high-speed data in and out of my home. I’ve got a TiVo and all these display devices — laptops, PDAs, cell phones. Why can’t I just watch and control my living-room TV wherever I am? So the Slingbox was born out of consumer frustration.

We created Sling Media, and our view is that, with a lot of hard work and a little luck, we will be able to scale the business and create families of products for the digital media lifestyle.

Can you describe what the Slingbox is in 20 words or less?

It’s a $249 box sold at retail that lets you place-shift your living-room TV experience to wherever you happen to have a broadband Net connection.

The Slingbox place-shifts that TV experience—whether it’s cable TV, a TiVo, satellite receiver, anything. It will redirect your TV signal to a laptop or desktop PC now. Eventually we’ll have other handhelds and platforms. You can be halfway across the world in a hotel room in China, or in the backyard in the hottub with a wireless laptop.

What do you need for this to work?

You need a home network—and a lot of consumers say, “I don’t have a network but I have a wireless router.” So OK, you have a broadband router. You also need a TV signal, and a Windows XP laptop or desktop computer.

So what Tivo did for time-shifting, you hope to do for place shifting?

Exactly right, couldn’t have said it better. The DVR, especially pioneered by TiVo and Replay, delivered on the original promise of the VCR, to allow you to time-shift and watch when you want. We’re just taking that and extending it to the next level, so you can watch TV wherever you want to be. Importantly, it doesn’t have to be pre-recorded, it could be live TV.

Can you explain “personal broadcasting’’?

We needed a term to explain this new category. We call it a Slingbox personal broadcaster because it place-shifts your TV experience, but it can also be used for a variety of other forms of redirecting content. Maybe you want to personally broadcast some of your own content. I may want to film my daughter at her swim meet and broadcast it to my parents halfway around the world.

With the notion of place-shifting and the core technologies in the Slingbox, we have visions for where this can go beyond the TV application. But at the start, it’s important for us to focus on one or two core scenarios to help people get their arms around it. Given that people absolutely love television and their TiVos, we wanted to focus on that solution first.

Can you sling your personal video to friends or family today?

Technically, it’s possible to do that now, but it’s a pretty kludgy solution. We’ve seen people who wanted to immediately use the Slingbox to broadcast a live amateur rock band. You need a video camera, a Slingbox, and you need to configure it manually, but it can be done. But we want that functionality to come with utter simplicity. The people who read Engadget have the sophistication and they’ll probably go start using the Slingbox for uses like this now and start demanding that we accelerate some of our development efforts.


How are early sales going?

They’ve been overwhelmingly brisk, we’ve been blown away. It’s still early, but the sales are bordering on insane. We launched the product on June 30 nationwide at CompUSA’s 300 stores. BestBuy just brought it out on July 11. Within the first four or five days, we were sold out.

[Note: The interview was interrupted for a few hours while Krikorian appeared on the TV program “Access Hollywood.”]

Welcome back. How did the TV taping go?

Man, it’s been insane today. We were taping right next door to Jay Leno’s show, with a whole bunch of crazy people running around. The thing that’s interesting is how mainstream the interest in our product is. Typically you’d think it would take a long time for the non-geeks to get excited about something like this. But for whatever reason, I think people kind of get it.

With DVRs or TiVo, you’re talking about time-shifting, something that’s abstract. But people know their TV experience and they can visualize themselves in some place other than their living room. They just go, ah ha!

Who are you targeting at the outset?

Clearly the overall market is large. It’s people who just love television and have broadband. Yes, there are the heat seekers who love doing cool stuff with their media, and they’ll be there no matter what. There are also the mobile professionals who are on the road frequently and want to watch TV.

But we see two other core groups: There are also people who are TiVo or DVR users who are interested in having that experience in other rooms in the house. There’s another set of people who are tethered to their desks at work and they have a keen interest in television, whether it’s news junkies who want to be tapped into world or financial news, or avid sports fans at work, or those who want to watch their local team on their laptop while barbecuing in the back yard. We’ve gotten emails from people who say they love it because they can watch their team in the bathroom. There are also those who may be living abroad for an extended period.

Mike Langberg in the San Jose Mercury News wrote the other day, why wouldn’t you just burn your recorded TV shows onto DVD and watch it on your laptop?

Sure, that could be done. The Slingbox isn’t the only way of enjoying media. But there’s something about having the instant gratification, not having to worry about planning ahead and burning a DVD. People want instant access to stuff, they don’t want to have to deal with it.

You mentioned TiVo. Why would TiVoToGo be a better solution than buying a Slingbox?

No. 1, I’m a huge TiVo fan. Unfortunately, TiVoToGo applies only to the Series 2, which is like 15 percent of the TiVo market. Besides that, TiVoToGo is a solution that’s good for planning ahead. It takes hours to dump the stuff over. So while it’s useful, it doesn’t address the kind of instant gratification the Slingbox provides.

But the two are pretty complementary. In the future, you may see TiVoToGo functionality built into the Slingplayer client. We don’t have a religious issue about it — we just love TV and we think there’s a lot of different ways to watch it.

Let’s talk business model briefly. Without subscriptions, are you depending just on sale of the boxes to make money?

That was a major decision for us, and consumers are responding positively to it. There’s subscription fatigue out there, and it’s a barrier for products to be adopted. When we set out we said, we need to hit a certain price point, and we need to create a business model where we can make money selling a box. That’s counterintuitive, especially if talk to the VCs on Sand Hill Road, but we said, “It’s time to get back to basics and keep it simple and sell a device.”

Over time there could be additional features and applications we could add to a Slingbox for incremental revenue. It’s hard to tell. After people start buying our boxes, we’ll make a bunch of other products, some hardware, some software, some service.

It sounds like you’re willing to take the Slingbox places that TiVo fears to tread, but perhaps not quite as far as ReplayTV. Tell me about that delicate balancing act you’re doing with Hollywood.

When we set out to make this product, you can bet we did a whole lot of homework up front to make sure that what we were doing was under the fair use provisions of copyright law. After all our analysis and the functionality we introduced and the limitations, we feel really, really comfortable. Some of those limitations include making sure the Slingbox is not a one-to-many device. Certainly it will stream to multiple devices, but it will only do so one at a time.

The very first fear you heard from the folks in Hollywood was, my God, now J.D. is going to serve up television to 50,000 of his closest friends with one Slingbox in his house. When they started to dig into it, interestingly the discussions we’ve had have been incredibly positive, and the light starts to go on when people see this is additive and not a cannibalistic application.

Let’s take the television networks. We recently had a sit-down with one of the national networks. One of the execs said, “You’re tripling the number of television sets on the planet. Look, we’ve got our decades-old distribution model, where we have the content, it goes through the pipes into people’s homes. What you’re doing is selling this $250 device to a consumer to let him watch our programming more often than he used to and helping extend our reach. The TV business and ratings have been hemorrhaging for the past 20 years. This is an opportunity for us to regain those eyeballs.”

Yet, a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter quotes a CBS executive as saying they see you as a threat.

Historically, when you look at how the television industry came about, the industry was built on a notion of exclusivity for certain geographies. You had these affiliate stations and you had the right to get “Oprah” for this part of the Bay Area while another station aired it in Carmel. But the Internet has changed our notion of geography and boundaries.

Look, any time a new technology comes about, it disrupts old business models. Any time there’s a new technology that empowers the consumer, some people in the industry get nervous because it’s all about control, and there are a lot of people in the industry who don’t want to see the consumer have control. But you gotta deal with this. Let’s look at the benefits that come out of this.

In a lot of ways, a DVR is much more disruptive than the Slingbox, because the DVR empowers consumers to skip commercials. That’s not really what we’re doing.

We hear complaints that it’s possible for someone on the West Coast to get a friend on the East Coast to beam them “Desperate Housewives” three hours ahead of time. But you could do that today without the Slingbox. With a DirecTV account, I get a Vonage account with a New York area code and I can watch it early in high definition.

We don’t condone piracy, and we’re not out to say, “Screw you” to the broadcast community. Our focus is: we know who our customer is—the end user—and we’re not going to forget that. We think there are win-win solutions, but we’ve also seen companies that are more concerned with serving the industry than solving the consumers’ problems.

Fred von Lohmann of the EFF fears that after Grokster, companies like Sling Media will begin putting DRM, or “hobble-ware,” into your products. Unfounded?

We haven’t had any requests by anyone saying, “Please do this or make the product in a different way.” Who in their right minds will stand up and say, “You the consumer don’t have the right to watch a television program you’re paying for”? You ask the man in the street and they’ll say yes 100 percent of the time.

I think Fred’s right that there’s a battle going on and it will only heat up further. It’s going to be about control and does the consumer get control, or does the industry get to decide everything? It concerns me. Those are battles that need to be fought. If we start going down the path of hobble-ware, no one knows what implications that has for us in the future. It could start to stifle innovation. We could get surpassed by other countries who start out-executing us. Or new technologies are not going to come to market.

Does the Slingbox have fast-forwarding and skipping-ahead capabilities?

All we want to do is give you the exact TV viewing experience of your living room. If I connect to my TiVo, the Slingbox’s virtual remote control comes up on my wireless laptop and the remote looks exactly like my TiVo remote. Our UI is fully skinnable, so you’ll see more of these customized UIs that will evolve. We now support 5,000 devices out there — tons of DVD players, set-top boxes, cable and satellite receivers, DVRs, VCRs.

If you happen to have a 30-second skip button on your remote control, we’ll give you the same experience. If on your TiVo you’ve figured out how to create your 30-second easter egg thing, we’ll do that. You know, I think DirecTV blows it out every week.

That happens to you, too?

Yeah! They’re sending something over the airwaves to delete it. I’ve been going online and haven’t seen anyone report or blog about this. It’s weird. Why is this being deleted?

The other thing I’ve never figured out is, the Microsoft Media Center has a 30-second skip built into it, and why don’t they get shit about it? You record shows on your Media Center, those suckers are in the open. You can take those MPEG-2 files and email them to people. Why hasn’t there been a big uproar about that?

One of our readers asked how much bandwidth you need for a satisfactory viewing experience with the Slingbox.

You definitely don’t need a T1 line, though it would be sweet. One of the core requirements for us was we had to make sure that the product works with the existing infrastructure. To watch TV over the laptop over your home network, all you need is 802.11b. Some people say that’s impossible, but we’ve created some proprietary algorithms and optimization technologies, which we call Slingstream. It dynamically will adjust your video stream to work within whatever bandwidth conditions you have, which change in real time. The same thing applies with your upstream bandwidth outside of the house. It’s subjective, but I think you really need a DSL or cable service with a minimum of 256K up, which most people have these days. If you’re watching it on a smaller screen, then even 100K looks pretty darn good.

Will you be bringing the Slingbox out in the UK market soon?

Yes. We’ll probably have it by the end of the year. We’re soliciting feedback from consumers to determine how we want to roll out in that market.

We made our first delivery to a UK customer last week. We had a guy in a forum who was dying for it, and he got some NTSC-to-PAL converter and figured it out. Our VP of operations was flying through Heathrow, so I had him bring a unit and he met the dude in Heathrow and the guy’s going crazy on it. We’ll have a PAL version in the third quarter. We might just sell it online at first.

When will a Windows Mobile and Palm version come out?

We’re looking to have Windows Mobile in the next few months. It’ll clearly be there by the end of the year. Palm is an interesting one, I’ll be getting together with members of their executive team later this month. The first Treo sucked in terms of video performance, but the new 650 has actually got a lot more horsepower and it’s pretty sweet. No date on that yet, but it’s looking like we’ll support the Palm sooner rather than later.

What about a Mac version?

We don’t have any announcement yet. We intend to release it in the next few months. Sometimes working with Apple involves getting our Slingstream technology to fully work on a Mac, which means we might need some cooperation from the company that holds the keys to that. That company is not necessarily the easiest to partner with. But it’s great to see the demand from the consumers, because that gives us a lot more ammunition when we approach them. So I actually love the Mac guys complaining and pounding on it, so I urge them to keep it up.

Would Virtual PC be a solution?

I’ve tried to run Slingstream on my G5 iMac with Virtual PC, and the performance is terrible, but I’ve heard from others who run it on Powerbook, and they say the performance with Virtual PC is pretty good.

Is there a way to know if someone else is watching the TV while you fiddle with the Internet-connected version of the Slingbox?

What happens is, the N on the front of the Slingbox lights up when it’s slinging, so you can look at it and say, “Hey, man, someone’s watching my TV, what’s going on?”

Can I watch U.S. television when I’m in Europe, or vice-versa?

Today you can be traveling in Europe or anywhere in the world and watch your U.S. programming, no problem. Now, to use the Slingbox in your home in the U.K., if you want to plug it in and use the built-in tuner, you need a PAL tuner. The Slingbox currently uses NTSC only.

If you’re in the U.S. and wanted to watch programs from your home in the U.K., there are no requirements on the player side, it’s all about that Slingbox back in the U.K. needs to support the PAL video standard, so there’s a PAL-to-NTSC converter you can get.

Can one Slingbox stream to multiple desktops in a corporate setting?

Right now, because of the limitations we’ve imposed, the Slingbox does only one-to-one, but we’ve gotten a lot of requests, and we’re considering building a corporate box that would allow multicasting inside a local area network.

Is it possible for a ground-breaking technology to find acceptance in the U.S. marketplace without a BestBuy distributorship or a name brand like Sony?

We’re really proud of the fact that, from day one, we’ve launched in over 1,000 stores at BestBuy and CompUSA. Companies like BestBuy will typically not take your product if you’re a new company and if they do they’ll work with you on a trial basis. Here, they’ve rolled it out nationwide, and that’s a pretty rare thing. They’re one of the few retailers that do their own user testing before they decide to carry a product.

What about OEM relationships?

In the convergence space, it doesn’t make sense to plant a religious flag. One day you’re a product, and the next day you’re a feature. You can’t take a religious stance, you have to embrace where the market goes. Should this technology be a feature that’s embedded into a set-top box someday? Sure, why not?

From day one we’ve basically built it as a core place-shifting engine in the Slingbox and a core set of software that can be applied to a variety of other features and products.

What about the ability to place-shift other media like images, jpegs and music on a home network?

Video, from a technical perspective, is the real hard one. So then if you decide you want to support other forms of media, by all means we can go do that. I want to hear from the users and consumers on whether they want that. When I hear of things like place-shifting your audio or pictures, there are a lot of great ways to do that already. I have all my pictures on my laptop and my music on my MP3 player. I don’t want to start supporting all these features that will confuse the heck out of consumers. You want to do one or two things really, really well.

What about supporting high definition?

We have stuff in the labs right now. It’s a question of when is the right time to do so and at what price point. It’s dangerous for a startup company to make a product that costs $1,000 from the get-go. You might see a hi-def version from us sooner than you might think.

One of your readers asked about connecting 1394 from an HD cable box to the Slingbox. That’s really cool, because then you could take the native HD MPEG-2 and the Slingbox can be a real-time transcoding engine. Technically, it’s absolutely possible. The question is, what’s going to happen with the broadcast flag with copy-once, copy-never content, which is still tied up in the courts.

This is where it gets scary. There is a law out there, the DMCA, that states very clearly that you cannot circumvent encryption schemes, and if you do you’ve violated federal law. Depending on how some of these battles play out, consumers may not be able to do what they’d like with their media. Today, we’re taking in analog video so we’re not violating that law.

Why did you decide to use the Windows Media format rather than a video codec like H.264?

That was a funny question. If anything, Windows Media is the most open of those standards—it has the best quality, performance and has the most straightforward licensing. H.264 we might support in the future, but licensing H.264 is kind of a nightmare because there are several patent holders and it’s not clear who do you pay.

What’s ahead for Sling Media?

First, we’ll take direction from our customers and let them know we’re responding to their needs. For example, when we initially shipped the product, we were getting tons of requests for Windows 2000. Our VP of software spent a few all-nighters, created a new build, and as of tonight we’re going to release a new beta that supports Win2K.

As a company we’ll be focusing on better video quality on a Slingbox, some new upgrades coming soon will improve the codec, supporting more clients. But besides that, our vision for Sling Media is we want to become a brand that people expect great products from. We want to create a family of products that address the digital media lifestyle. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we’ll have some other interesting products that could be quite different from the Slingbox, but that will empower the consumer to enjoy that lifestyle.

Any chance you or one of your managers can stop by and post answers to some of the other questions our readers have asked?


J.D. Lasica’s new book about the digital media revolution is Darknet : Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation (Wiley & Sons).

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4:50:32 PM    comment []

TV? Talk to the Hand..

Something is up. People are behaving strangely and unlike the family friend that used to become apoplectic when the quarterback on the television clearly disregarded his urgent instructions to "Pass! Get rid of the ball boy! Pass!!!", it seems to me that now, when WE talk to the TV, the TV not only listens but talks back.

According to a post by Tomi T Ahonen who's the co-author of Communities Dominate Brands and the blog by the same name:

SMS-to-TV is already one of the largest "Value-Add Service" revenues for the mobile telecoms industry, right behind ringing tones, logos and games. Already a billion-dollar business in its own right. Endemol, the producer of "Big Brother" earns 25% of its revenues from SMS voting etc. In An Italian SMS dating service on TV generates 5 million Euros per year, while the birthplace of SMS-to-TV has innovated with over 20 separate "shows" and content all based on SMS-to-TV. Starting from the rapidly world-conquering SMS-to-TV chat, to SMS games to the latest, SMS-to-TV Rap. Yes, if you feel you would make the next 50 Cent, Nelly or P. Diddy, then just send your lyrics to the TV screen where the animated digital rapper will perform your rhymes.

Sound implausible? SMS-to-TV is the most profitable TV content of all time. With premium SMS charges anywhere from 5 times to 10 times to even 20 times more than regular SMS text messages, and as 1000 messages come in per hour, 5 hours per night, 365 days a year, on three commercial networks in Finland, YOU do the math.

Because of SMS-to-TV, Finland became the first country where TV industry earned more from mobile revenues than advertising, two years ago. Now we find SMS-to-TV chat appearing everywhere from Belgium to Malaysia.

This is a major shift and I'm surprised that I hadn't become aware of this sooner. Reading the post got me thinking. Interactive television has always been an idea that has never quite come to fruition. Sure we've got "Diamonique" but turning what's happening on the screen into something that's influenced by the living room is a major power shift. The consumer is going from passivity to participation (much to the benefit of the television stations and the carriers who also share the revenue) and this shift, it seems to me, is likely to filter across a much broader spectrum of television content; especially as advertising revenues dwindle due to time-shifting DVRs while cellular operators will likewise do everything they can to encourage this trend as voice revenues become further commoditized.

In some respects this trend is interesting and I'm sure for consumers, the results are satisfying. Nothing quite makes your day, I'm certain, than when the contestant you loathe most on "American Whatever" is soundly voted off in a landslide of SMS messages to #gohome.

However, as with any new or growing form of communication or interaction, the potential for abuse exists; and while you might wonder how so here, however, imagine if it becoomes possible to exploit every single opportunity that exists for the audience to participate in directing what you see on the screen. This could rapidly become a degenerative disease that takes an already frequently banal and shallow medium and creates, as Robin Sloan's Epic so eloquently states, this could create, a medium that at its worst, and for too many, is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow, shallow and sensational.

Yes, I fear the day when television, by virtue of the death of advertising, and driven by cellular operator's need to replace voice revenues. becomes a medium totally controlled by the whims of the "barca-lounger masses", no longer holding "the clicker" but furiously hammering away at a miniature QWERTY keyboard, and quietly, becoming apoplectic, now, though, the game has changed. This time, the quarterback passes, the ball is dropped and as the camera pans back, he looks towards an audience he cannot see, shrugs and says, "bad call, Bob, I should have ran the ball..."

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
1:33:08 PM    comment []

Games, TV, Cell Phones and Product; is Convergence the Future of Operator Revenue?.

Writing yesterday's post TV? Talk to the Hand, got me thinking more and more about the new ways in which the carriers as well as the non-subscription television stations will have to go about generating revenues as they see a steady erosion or their primary income streams. With consumers "opting out" of commercials with the use of DVRs and a combination of downward price pressure from competition and the growing threat of voice and now wireless voice over IP, it won't be long before TV Advertising and paying for phone service by the minute are relegated to a second tier cash source for these industries. Not that this will happen tomorrow, but clearly the carriers and broadcasters that take preemptive action to find other means to monetize the consumer will be far better off than those that fail to see the gathering storm.

As much as I use SMS I probably should have seen it coming, but based on emails, calls and even IM's it seems I wasn't the only one surprised by the substantial revenues that are being generated by
SMS-to-TV Perhaps it was no coincidence then that I spotted a post on Textually's other great site, Picturephoningthat caught my eye and got me thinking...Picturephoning.com: Action Adventure for Cell Phones

Let me quote directly from Picturephoning:

"Cell phones are being invaded by a new action adventure called Jenny Jet. Featuring Alien Greys, Reptoids, the Feds, and other unsavory characters, Jenny Jet combines text messages, blogs, television, and a cutting-edge story.

Working for the C.M.I.A. (Central Mobile Intelligence Agency), Jenny Jet investigates the alien/government conspiracy that has been going on for decades in underground facilities around the country. She then sends daily text alerts to her subscribers' cell phones as she uncovers extraterrestrial installations, biogentic labs, and the coming alien conflict.

"It is an interactive, sci-fi adventure to get caught up in," says Gary Brooks, creator of Jenny Jet. Subscribers are able to interact by texting JENNY (53669) from their cell phone and by blogging at jennyjet.com. Brooks plans to extend the Jenny Jet character beyond the cell phone through strategic partnerships and licensing deals for television, books, games, etc.

The service is free to subscribers, other than the standard messaging rates that wireless carriers charge. Cell phone users can sign up to the service at JennyJet.com

Providing the game is good (and we'll know soon enough since I signed up to participate), I think this is a great idea, and even if this initial effort is flawed from a content standpoint (I'm not saying it is, just posing the possibility), the medium is really smart. Clever integration of web, physical events, SMS, WAP, and of course television could be just what the doctor ordered to help both the TV stations and the phone companies regain some lost financial footing.

From my perspective this sort of converged production is ripe with potential. There are a vast number of shows that could be produced that integrate the virtual and physical worlds. Smartly written episodic tales, perhaps authored by some of today's finest novelists, could easily be sold an episode at a time or via subscription. Souvenirs, memorabilia, art and other related goods are a natural extension and could be sold via the web, home shopping, pay-by-SMS or via the nearly extinct paper catalog.

With enough creativity and ingenuity, I think it would be possible to tailor content to nearly any demographic and develop saleable product to match. Who knows, maybe what today is a free game based upon the "X-Files" could become tomorrow's all consuming entertainment media-product-juggernaut.

I'd love to hear other views on this. How long until Telcos and Broadcasters MUST replace their revenue streams? Is the converged method likely to be the future? How else do you foresee the lost revenues being replaced? Let's hear from some readers...

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
1:32:38 PM    comment []

Russell Beattie Finds Viral Mobile Intriguing.

I was cruising through
Russell Beattie's Notebook Blog in the wee hours of the morning and came across something I thought was exceptionally cool, and a great find. It was also fortuitous as it came right on the heels of my post yesterday about location based services.

I'll leave Russell's words intact as well as those of the agency that created the campaign, but I will add my two cents.

What I find special about this advertising campaign is the clever application of so many elements that are really new means of reaching consumers. Clearly customers are giving permission to the advertiser to address them, and in fact some are devoting considerable time to finding their buddy and winning the prizes which are airline tickets.

In addition, this is a campaign that has a lot of life...people will keep on trying to find a match until the contest is called, and possibly even after. Plus, if you think about it, there are a lot of things that these advertisers can do to extend or expand the campaign...in fact, the customers that are participating are already extending the campaign themselves with things like personals and web sites designed to try and help people find their winning pair.

Personally, this is one of the first times I've seen a campaign that was honestly viral (people tell other people about the campaign in hopes of finding their own match not because they're good Samaritans), and also truly a permission based campaign...people will gladly give up their mobile number for a chance to win a free trip.

How many other promotions Virgin will do using the names they've harvested remains to be seen, but I'm optimistic that they understand how to handle the participants in a way that won't alienate them, and in fact may actually serve to increase brand loyalty. What do you think?

The Adverblog has a great post today about a new mobile campaign from Virgin Express:

This is how the idea works: you sign up via SMS or online and you're
immediately sent an SMS with your "buddy word". Then you go to one of
the music festivals sponsored by Virgin Express and you look for
someone with same buddy word. If you find him/her, go together to the
Virgin Express stand and you'll receive a free flight each. Smart,
isn't it?

I think this is fantastic.

It's really a way to get people both to use SMS and to have them
interact in person as well. This would actually be great at conventions
and other meetups as well. In fact, maybe I'll whip together something
tonight for Mobile Monday. Everyone can SMS their phone number in
(actually probably MMS since I don't have a shortcode handy), I'll send
out a few keywords and pass out some prizes to the pairs that find each

What a killer idea!


[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
1:31:58 PM    comment []

Further Thoughts on Viral-Mobile.

The attention and incredible comments (including one from advertising legend Asa Bailey ) really got my attention and it got me thinking. Is viral the future of mobile marketing? Are the unique attributes of marketing to a truly mobile medium so specifically tuned to viral propagation and calls to action that other methods will pale by comparison? Are their enough different ways to conduct viral campaigns that the first three will work and after that is all just recycled material?

I started searching. Technorati, del.icio.us and more. My discovery echoed a recent comment on AdRants: how can people create campaigns of a specific type, i.e. "viral" if they don't really understand what a truly viral campaign is?

To then end, my thoughts on what constitutes, or does not constitute, a viral campaign:

I am not sure that we are correctly defining a viral promotion from a promotion that is intended to foster sharing or communication but which in and of itself, not truly viral.

I don't know how many people have read the words of Draper and Jurvetson regarding the proliferation and adoption of Hotmail and which lead to the concept of a marketing campaign that spread like a virus but it is well worth the three minutes. Keep in mind that it was authored on 1998.

I think what should be clear is that somehow the distinction between what is viral and what we'd like to think is viral has been completely lost.

I will say it again; sharing for the sake of sharing is NOT VIRAL. I don't care how many great clips, funny jokes, or virus warnings one puts out into the world, something truly viral spreads because adoption or utilization results in viral proliferation.

Again, viruses are selfish. They exist for their own good. Any agent that supports their proliferation by virtue of sharing does not meet with the first basic tenet of Viral marketing.

As an example, the recent Virgin Find Your Buddy Campaign is Viral, your motivation to participate is to get a free airline ticket, spreading the word about the contest during your participation and effort to selfishly win the prize allows the message to spread. VIRAL.

Another campaign by Virgin calls itself Viral, but it fails to meet the definition, the " super-fun choose-your-own-adventure style finger puppet movie for Virgin Mobile has a "finger a friend" link. Because the link is there and you could share it with others the agency and the site where I noticed it call it viral. Wrong. No motivation other than sharing to take action. There is nothing to gain by propagating the message and thus the virus. NOT VIRAL.

Again, use this litmus test; is there a selfish benefit component that induces the recipient of a viral message to take action and thus promulgate the virus? IF the sole benefit is making someone else laugh, and the sender does not increase value for himself, either by getting closer to a prize, gaining a service or award for sending, earning entries, etc. than the promotion may be organic since it can grow by virtue of sharing but it is definitely NOT VIRAL.

I think part of the problem is that clients to agencies etc. have heard the "Viral" buzzword and they're demanding a "viral" campaign when what they're doing is not suited to viral anything (except for the fact that their ads are making me sick in some cases), the point is, by promising viral as Kevin said in the original post, you ruin credibility and destroy the real value and appeal of a medium that is unique and has the ability to be very successful when correctly applied.

[The Mobile Technology Weblog]
1:31:17 PM    comment []

Spud Trooper - These are Not the Toys You're Looking For.

spud-trooper-1.jpgThe Spud Trooper is a cute Mr. Potato Head doll with a Storm Trooper mask and potato masher gun. He goes great with Darth Tater. Together, they will crush the Rebel Alliance. They should also have a shriveled up Emperor Tuber-tine and a dashing, yet half-baked, Hash Solo.

Star Wars Spud Trooper Mr. Potato Head [UnCrate]

1:29:48 PM    comment []

411-SONG - name that tune

I've seen a million versions of song identifying tools, like the little doomed Sony emarker , but they almost never work. If they did, Brian wouldn't call me every week, humming the chorus of some song he'd heard 15 seconds of on the radio. I always think I'm good because of all the years I've spent working in music stores and labels (hey I almost wrote record stores, but that probably makes me sound about 99 years old) but my correct guess rate is probably about 50%. Alright, probably more like 20%.

411-SONG is the latest service, and it's the easiest one to use, and the most accurate (not really saying much, granted) I've ever tried. When you hear a song you don't know, you quickly call 866-411-SONG (7664) and you're prompted to put the phone up to the speaker so their computer can attempt to identify it. The call will automatically hang up after a 15-second clip is recorded. If they can name the song, you get a text message with the artist and title and a link to download/purchase the CD or the ringtone. 411-SONG will also suggest other songs you might want to buy. If they can name it, you're charged $.99 (directly to your phone bill) but the next four songs are free. You're not charged if they can't figure it out. The database currently includes 2.5 million songs.

First time I tried it my cell signal died and even before I could re-dial I got a sad little SMS telling me I'd hung up on them, and wouldn't I please like to try again? Obviously there are lots of factors involved, like the clarity and the volume of the clip you're trying to identify. So far, 411-SONG failed to identify very clear and loud tracks by the Doves, Pulp, and Stephen Malkmus. Each time, a full two minutes or so passed before I'd get a reluctantly concessive message informing me that my song was not found. When I played Coldplay's "Speed of Sound", I got a text right away with links for downloading the ringtone. Other songs on heavy radio rotation like "Feel Good" by the Gorillaz were also easily identified. So... I'm not sure how useful this is if your tastes run more towards the alternative or obscure but you probably wouldn't want a Rufus Wainright ringtone anyway.
- Mia [Popgadget: Personal Tech for Women]
1:25:46 PM    comment []

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