Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Better Way to Podcast

http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,70884-0.html?tw=wn_story_page_prev2

This artlicle is about the Podcast Ready myPodder which you can attach to your MP3 player and then your player to your PC. Using this device you can save your money, because you don't need expensive software to download files. It is a new solution but not yet perfect. After reading this article you can learn how it works, what problems it solves, what are the limitations of this concept, and so on.

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WEB CONTENT, produced by 50mm Americans

http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3609461

hey Good People-

Found this article on the impact of User Generated Content- Basically it is a monster ready to devour anything in it's path and it seems as though WE are the ones with the key to it's dungeon. The article overviews a report published by Pew Internet & American Life Project, entitled " Home Broadband Adoption 2006". It sites that 48 million American adults have contributed some form of user generated content on the internet. That totals to about 35% of Internet users. The article provides great demographic information on content creators ranging from age to income.... The findings basically support the fact that the broadband elite has definitely diversified. What does it all mean? To me, it's a double edged sword, it is great that everyone from Susie to Grandma can put their own piece of themselves on the net, but on the same hand, I do not want to go ciphering through everyone's personal stuff when I want to research something online. This may not be a valid concern, but convince me that there will be no internet traffic and then I'm game.

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Music on cell phones? Easy VOD? Cell and cable going the way of AOL.

Not if the cariers can help it... As this correspondent points out, it's clear to everyone that phone service (or web access) is a dead end from a revenue perspective. Everyone from cell phone companies to cable companies are basing their revenue models on value added revenue streams, which he boils down to two things: content and ads. He's right - it won't work.

With content, cell phone and cable companies both seem to think that the "walled garden" approach - blocking users from accessing content except through the company/provider's walled garden - will reap huge benefits. Their business models right now have people buying music tracks for $2.99 vs. iPod's $.99 - and not being able to upload their own content they already paid for. Cell companies are safer than cable companies, which provide expensive access to VOD on their systems compared to free or cheap online, but they are all ultimately stuck with the same problem AOL had - trying to force people to stay on the company farm.

AOL ruled the online world by being the easy choice for newbies in a complicated online world. Access was slow and hard without support, content was spotty online, and the web was green. But as the online world developed - access got easier and speeds got faster, web content got better, and more of the content on AOL became available online - the need for training wheels - especilly EXPENSIVE training wheels - became much, much less. AOL became irrelevent - they couldn't force users to stay in their walled garden, and there was no compelling reason to do so. And people have been leaving ever since - the only thing keeping them being their email address. (Phone numbers, incidentally, are now portable, much to the distress of cell phone operators.)

Cable companies have a leg up - they provide high speed access and other services direct to the consumer - but they are next in trouble. As more and more video is available on demand online, what value does the cable package provide? I would rather cut my massive $100+ cable monthly bill to $.99/use the ten times a month I want a movie and watch free ad-supported streaming direct from the cable channels - who wouldn't? The raging debates in the cable community over a la carte programming miss the point... the incredible difficulty of getting carriage for all but the most successful channels has shut the door on new channels and innovation, so all new video content is launching on demand, on the web, or both. Comcast is to harsh a gatekeeper for a new channel to deal with - even the ESPN's and NBC's of the world have highly publicized fights with the cable companies. No, cable's hubris rivals that of the phone companies and AOL in the past. Netflix will offer an on-demand service at a similar price point, and who needs cable?

The cell phone companies and their strangling of music is the same thing. The iPod/phone combo that everyone knows makes so much sense won't happen - cell phone software is too complex and buggy, and the carriers business models depend on the ridiculous pricing they enforce now - and delude themselves into thinking customers are 'willing to pay'. For years, they have built their business on the bottom line understanding that the consumer was basically locked in - it's a pain to switch. But it's getting easier. With number portability, there are only two things propping up the walled garden.

Cell phone music purchases are based on two major hidden facts - kids with no credit cards buying ringtones on their phone bills, and the deliberate restriction of functionality preventing people from putting music they own on their own phones. While selling to fourteen year old kids with no way to buy from iTunes may work for a while, it's only a matter of time before someone - whether a cell phone company themselves or Vonage or Skype - comes out with a Wifi mobile phone service. This will be outside the 'walled garden', and the begin of the end for the premiums being collected by the cell phone companies.

And good riddance. These are the companies that have the worst customer service records around and spend the most lobbying to keep their customers prisoner, recognizing that they will bolt at the first opportunity. Let's hope the revolution comes sooner rather than later.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Virtual Second Life spawns real game spinoff...

In the virtual world game called Second Life, a strange thing has just happened... someone designed a game within a game and it's now being licensed outside the virtual world... Tringo is hitting Game Boys soon....

But things get weirder yet. This month, the rest of the world will be able to find out just how addictive Tringo can be -- because the game is migrating outside of Second Life and joining the real world. Sean Ryan, head of the gaming company Donnerwood Media, found out about Tringo last year and loved it. ("I thought, this is really compelling. It's hard to make games that are different -- this one's not a clone," he told me.) So he signed a deal to license the game as a Game Boy Advance cartridge, which hit stores this month.

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Asia and IPv6 - Next gen internet

Fast Forward: China's lead in tech - May. 19, 2006:
Good article on both what's interesting about IPv6 and why we're falling behind as a nation. Alarmist as it may be, there's also great opportunities for entreprenuers in this country to take advantage...

"Today's Internet addressing scheme, called IPv4, based on 1970s technology, will max out at about 4.3 billion Web site addresses. IPv6, by contrast, will be able to simultaneously manage a number of addresses equal to 34 followed by 27 zeros. That's a lot.
Patterson says if we just wanted to operate the net as we do today we could get by with the addresses we have. But IPv6 enables whole new ways to live and work, he argues. Because it can assign a unique Internet address to anything electronic, it can tie in sensors in our homes, vehicles, workplaces and even under our skin."

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FORTUNE: Online scams create "Yahoo! millionaires"

FORTUNE: Online scams create "Yahoo! millionaires" - May 29, 2006:

"'The deterrent factor is not there at all,' says Thomas Oli, a Lagos lawyer, citing the case of a former police inspector general who was convicted of stealing more than $100 million and got only six months in jail.
'What do you want me to do?' Akin asks in pidgin English, explaining why he turned to a life of Internet crime. 'It is my God-given talent. Our politicians, they do their own; me, I'm doing my own. I feed my family - my sister, my mother, my popsie. Man must survive.'
The scams perpetrated by Akin and his comrades are many and varied: moneygram interceptions, Western Union hijackings, check laundering, identity theft, and outright begging, with tall tales of dying relatives and large sums of money in search of safe haven. One popular online fraud often practiced by women (or boys pretending to be women) involves separating lonely men from their money."


It's interesting how the story parallels the excuses of the drug economy in the United States.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Ultimate Net Monitor

Here's an article from Wired about a company called Narus and its net monitoring system. Apprentently the NSA had installed the box, which can monitor just about anything that passes through the server of which it's connected to, in AT&T's San Francisco switching office.
An important tidbit in this article is how China and other countries use the Narus box to stop VoIP phone calls coming and going out their respective countries and that this box can be used to charge cooperating phone companies for VoIP calls used over eachother's networks. I've been wondering how VoIP makes money...
"Our product is designed to comply (with) all of the laws in all of the countries we ship to," says Bannerman. "Many of our customers have built their own applications. We have no idea what they do."


http://wired.com/news/technology/0,70914-0.html?tw=wn_index_3

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Google Widgets

This is an interesting little article about Google's intentions of broadening their capabilities. They intend on offering mini-programs for user desktops called widgets...which will allow users to track weather, stock, and other information without the use of a browser...kind of cool. Google is inching more and more into Microsofts domain, and I'm wondering if there will be room for both of them or if one will come out the victor. Apparently Google is also going to be introducing new search capabilities intended for 'social' searches, which will delve into a Yahoo dominated territory.

"The co-op feature also allows users to alert Google about their
specific interests, like movies, restaurants and celebrity gossip, so
information related to those topics appears near the top of the results page
whenever they make a relevant search request.
"

http://www.wired.com/news/wireservice/0,70875-0.html?tw=wn_technology_internet_6

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hello Class!

Hello, this is Greg.
Ok, this first post is definitely off topic, but I am really just trying to test this. I'll take it down after this weekend. Nothing to report right now. Ooh! Except for this strange pop-up ad I came across for Universal Studios...

http://www.whoneedspants.com/livejournal/disturbing.jpg

Definitely looks like a wonderland of fun!

Best,
Greg

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Yahoo Is Unleashing a New Way to Turn Ad Clicks Into Ka-Ching - New York Times

Yahoo Is Unleashing a New Way to Turn Ad Clicks Into Ka-Ching - New York Times:

"When Yahoo finally switches on the new search-advertising software code-named Project Panama this summer, users of its search engine will hardly notice a difference. But if Yahoo's project was worth the two years and tens of millions of dollars it cost - far more money and time than it expected � users will find the text ads adjacent to the main search results just a little more interesting, luring them to click on those ads a little more often.

Those clicks should immediately turn into a lot more cash for Yahoo. It will not say how much. But Jordan Rohan, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets, estimates that if the strategy works, Yahoo will increase search-advertising revenue at least 20 percent right away - about $125 million in the fourth quarter of this year and $600 million next year."


A great article about the stakes for Yahoo! in the ad search wars... If MSN has bought Massive to differentiate itself by ingame advertising, here's another reason they had to - Yahoo! is stepping it up after 2 years and millions in development ot compete better against Google. At stake are literally hundreds of millions in ad revenues. Since higher relevance should result in more clicks, that should mean bottom line dollars for Yahoo!

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Microsoft confirms Massive Inc acquisition // GamesIndustry.biz

Microsoft confirms Massive Inc acquisition // GamesIndustry.biz

Microsoft acquires leading in game advertising specialist Massive Incorpoprated.

Microsoft plans to implement Massive's dynamic ad solutions into a number of services, beginning with the obvious link to Xbox Live and Xbox 360 titles, but stretching to other online activities such as its casual games space through MSN and Windows Live.

Kevin Johnson, co-president of the Microsoft's platforms and services division, commented: "Our acquisition of Massive will expand opportunities for advertisers and enable connection to a broader audience of digital consumers. We are committed to building an advertiser network that serves a wide spectrum of needs."



One possibility: this allows MSN Adcenter to diffeentiate itself from google and Yahoo's ad serving offerings....

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Google and Yahoo get good grades; MSN, AOL need improvement - May. 4, 2006

Google and Yahoo get good grades; MSN, AOL need improvement - May. 4, 2006

An interesting take on the major internet search competitors. Biased, of course, to public companies - one could argue that Ask.com's miniscule market share oculd be eaten by an as-yet unnamed startup...

Now that all the parent companies of these five big sites have released earnings, here's a report card and what to look for next from the biggest names on the Web as they fight for a piece of the supernova-hot online advertising market, which hit a record $12.5 billion last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's music to Apple's ears: New contracts for iTunes - Technology - International Herald Tribune

It's music to Apple's ears: New contracts for iTunes - Technology - International Herald Tribune:
Apple's iTunes has re-signed contracts with all the major record labels and successfully held the line on the simple, $.99 per track pricing structure for its downloads store.

"The deals are a victory for the Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs, who has been fighting music companies' attempts to change prices and to charge more for some songs. The Warner chief executive, Edgar Bronfman Jr., said last September that demand should dictate prices. Jobs said that some record companies were being 'greedy' and that higher music prices might prompt users to illegally download songs. "

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Entropia Universe Players Can Cash Their Online Earnings at the A.T.M. - New York Times

Entropia Universe Players Can Cash Their Online Earnings at the A.T.M. - New York Times:

Scifi virtual world Entropia, a game taking place on an asteroid where the economy is central to the game, has now enabled players to withdraw their in game cash from ATM's. While it's always been easy to buy in game cash (of course) taking it has been difficult. This now creates a relatively frictionless transfer with an established exchange rate.

"The game's maker, MindArk, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, estimates that Entropia players generated $165 million (or 1.65 billion P.E.D.'s) in total economic activity last year. Since the game's inception in 2003, it has been relatively simple for players to add money to their Entropia accounts via credit card or electronic bank transfer. But until now withdrawing money from the system was a cumbersome affair that could take months, as MindArk employees manually verified that the player's virtual fortune had been earned legitimately (and not by hacking).
'We want this game to be a full second reality,' Jan Welter, MindArk's chief executive, said in a telephone interview. 'We want you to be able to have fun, make friends, make a business, enjoy music and art and do it in our game. The A.T.M. card is a big step toward bringing people into our world because they can have comfort that they can access their virtual funds immediately.'"


There are now entrepreneurs making real livings through their virtual world investments. Witness this gentlemen making $150,000 a year renting and managinghis space station:

For instance Jon Jacobs, known online as Neverdie, a 39-year-old Entropia player in Miami Beach, last year sold almost everything he owned (real and virtual) to scratch together $100,000 (1 million P.E.D.'s) to buy a huge space station in the game. By selling apartments and storefronts to other players and by imposing taxes on players' hunting and mining on his real estate, he is now making about $12,000 a month on his investment, he estimates. And his big nightclub is still under construction.

The question is, is it all based on the Ponzi scheme of first mover advantage? On other words - do the first players capitalize on the later players inthese economies?

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Facebook

It is an article on potential buyers of Facebook

http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2006/03/what_will_googl.html

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Wired 14.05: The New Networks

Wired 14.05: The New Networks

An excellent guide to the 'new networks' - your online sources of video programming...

And there's a lot of public domain stuff - see below, but also check out the BBC and the French Government, which have amazing archives online.

Public Domain Torrents
www.publicdomaintorrents.com
Thank goodness copyright doesn't last forever. This site offers Hollywood gems like the 1937 A Star Is Born and dirt clods like Zontar: The Thing From Venus. Many come formatted for iPod and PSP.

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Fox Interactive scoops up early stage startups

From today's VentureWire alert... great source of day to day VC info....

Fox Interactive Media has acquired small Internet start-ups kSolo Inc. and Newroo Inc., proving that News Corp.'s online division is keeping close tabs on young entrepreneurs as it builds its network of Web properties.

The acquisitions, whose values weren't disclosed, are minor deals for Fox Interactive, which paid $580 million last year for Intermix Media Inc., the parent company of social networking site MySpace.com, and has made no secret of a $2 billion war chest for acquisitions. Newroo was formed in 2002 as a service for aggregating news and other Web content. The company was still developing the technology when Fox bought the company earlier this year. KSolo last summer launched its Internet karaoke service, in which people can choose from a database of thousands of songs, record performances and send their renditions to friends via "singing e-cards" and Web casts.

Neither kSolo nor Newroo have venture capital backing, but they show that News Corp. is looking for smaller, early-stage acquisitions. "A lot of companies today are building for the quick flip," said Chris Shipley, an industry analyst and organizer of the DEMO consumer technology conference. "[Fox] is making a smart play to catch some interesting media properties - before those companies have taken [venture] capital - and really betting that they are going...to help them build out their media properties."

Fox Interactive, which was formed last summer to house News Corp.'s growing stable of Internet assets, has made a handful of high-profile acquisitions in the past year, paying $650 million for online media company IGN Entertainment Inc. and $80 million for private equity-backed sports publisher Scout Media Inc. The buzz from those deals, Fox said, has prompted young entrepreneurs - like Newroo's founders - to approach Fox early-on before they raise funds from venture capital firms.

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Google complains about Microsoft search engine: Report - May. 1, 2006

Google complains about Microsoft search engine: Report - May. 1, 2006

Google fires a warning shot over the bow for Microsoft, expressing concern in court for the default choice of MSN as the search tool in the new version of Internet Explorer. Billions of dollars are at stake, much as they were when Netscape controlled most users' homepages...

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