Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Space Craft: Connect with your real world friends and family with the new Windows Live profile

Windows Live evolution continues – see the full post for screen shots and more details

Profiles will be the center of Windows Live

Your profile will be the place for people to see what is going on with you, to communicate with you, and to see the content you are sharing. It’s also your way to express yourself. You can choose from a variety of themes, share what you’re doing online (both on Windows Live and on other websites) in your what’s new feed, and get to all of of the things you’ve posted on Windows Live – your photos, files, space, and profile details. If you want to add someone to your network or communicate with them, either through private messages or by posting a note for everyone to see, the profile will be the best place to do it.

An interesting twist:

Under the profile details will be the list of web activities you’ve added to your profile. If you use another website, like Flickr, Pandora, or Twitter, you can add it to your Windows Live profile. Every time you make an update on one of those other sites it’ll show up in your what’s new feed. It’s a great way to share all of the things you do online in one place.

The Space Craft: Connect with your real world friends and family with the new Windows Live profile

You’re Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy? - NYTimes.com

A timely reality check

For the last 50 years, Americans have worried about the privacy of the individual in the computer age. But new technologies have become so powerful that protecting individual privacy may no longer be the only issue. Now, with the Internet, wireless sensors, and the capability to analyze an avalanche of data, a person’s profile can be drawn without monitoring him or her directly.

“Some have argued that with new technology there is a diminished expectation of privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy rights group in Washington. “But the opposite may also be true. New techniques may require us to expand our understanding of privacy and to address the impact that data collection has on groups of individuals and not simply a single person.”

You’re Leaving a Digital Trail. What About Privacy? - NYTimes.com

Friday, November 28, 2008

In-Flight Wi-Fi Aboard the Virgin Party Plane (PC World) by PC World: Yahoo! Tech

Sign of the times; read the full article for more details

Virgin America isn't the first airline to offer in-flight Wi-Fi, but it will be the first airline to offer the service on its entire fleet of planes. Gogo Wi-Fi is already available on American Airlines, Delta is rolling out wireless networking systemwide this fall, while Alaska Airlines, Continental, Southwest Airlines, Jet Blue, and Virgin America are testing Wi-Fi or have limited trials in operation.

There was a first during this event, however: YouTube hosted its first live streaming event in San Francisco during the flight, which featured video streamed from the plane. While that was being filmed and streamed, the in-flight crew told all the passengers to disconnect from the Wi-Fi service to maximize the bandwidth for video being streamed from the plane.

In-Flight Wi-Fi Aboard the Virgin Party Plane (PC World) by PC World: Yahoo! Tech

Thursday, November 27, 2008

State of the Art - No Keyboard? And You Call This a BlackBerry? - NYTimes.com

Harshest Storm review I’ve seen so far…

There’s even GPS, with turn-by-turn directions as you drive ($10 a month extra). The Storm can show voice mail in an Inbox-like list, like the iPhone does ($3 a month extra). The screen (480 x 360 pixels) is bright and beautiful.

Honestly, though, you’ll probably never get that far. When you look at your typing, slow and typo-ridden, and you repair the dents you’ve made banging your head against the wall, you’ll be grateful that Verizon offers a 30-day return period.

How did this thing ever reach the market? Was everyone involved just too terrified to pull the emergency brake on this train?

State of the Art - No Keyboard? And You Call This a BlackBerry? - NYTimes.com

Grandma’s on the Computer Screen - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times – read the full article 

 

Video calling, long anticipated by science fiction, is filtering into everyday use. And two demographic groups not particularly known for being high-tech are among the earliest adopters.

In a way that even e-mailed photos never could, the Web cam promises to transcend both distance and the inability of toddlers to hold up their end of a phone conversation.

Grandma’s on the Computer Screen - NYTimes.com

H.P. Unit Sheds Stepchild Status to Take on Cisco - NYTimes.com

An interesting co-opetition shift; see the full article for more details

Now H.P. is directly attacking Cisco in a bid to capture a larger chunk of the $20 billion market for local area network and wireless switches. “H.P. has declared war,” said Mark Fabbi, a networking analyst at the research firm Gartner. “H.P. has the potential to completely change the dynamics of the networking industry.”

Hewlett-Packard’s strategy with ProCurve — expand revenue and profit by biting into a leader’s lucrative franchise — is vintage Mark Hurd. And it offers some insights into how the company has outperformed its peers financially even as the technology industry faces a global slowdown.

H.P. Unit Sheds Stepchild Status to Take on Cisco - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Should Microsoft make Zune phone? - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source

Read the full post for more context; the final post paragraphs:

In other words, Microsoft may or may not be developing its own mobile phone, perhaps under the Zune brand. Maybe we'll find out at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Maybe we won't.
But here's the interesting question: Should the company come out with its own mobile phone? Should Microsoft's long and mostly unsuccessful struggle against the iPod keep the company from attempting to take on the iPhone? If it came with the right features, and partnered with the right wireless provider, would you consider buying a Microsoft-branded phone?

Should Microsoft make Zune phone? - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source

Atlantic Records Says Digital Sales Surpass CDs - NYTimes.com

A significant milestone

Atlantic, a unit of Warner Music Group, says it has reached a milestone that no other major record label has hit: more than half of its music sales in the United States are now from digital products, like downloads on iTunes and ring tones for cellphones.

But, later in the article:

With the milestone comes a sobering reality already familiar to newspapers and television producers. While digital delivery is becoming a bigger slice of the pie, the overall pie is shrinking fast. Analysts at Forrester Research estimate that music sales in the United States will decline to $9.2 billion in 2013, from $10.1 billion this year. That compares with $14.6 billion in 1999, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

As a result, the hope that digital revenue will eventually compensate for declining sales of CDs — and usher in overall growth — have largely been dashed.

Atlantic Records Says Digital Sales Surpass CDs - NYTimes.com

Microsoft is hugely profitable - just not where Google rules - Nov. 26, 2008

An attention-grabbing first paragraph, but read the full article and check the closing paragraphs on the second page for a more optimistic projection.

Struggle? You don't normally think of that word applying to the company Bill Gates founded. But there it is: Microsoft, one of the most aggressively competitive, brainiac-attracting, technologically superior, and oh, yes, cash-gushingly profitable companies of all time, can't for the life of it make a dime on the Internet.

Microsoft is hugely profitable - just not where Google rules - Nov. 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ray Ozzie Wants to Push Microsoft Back Into Startup Mode

Lengthy Microsoft/Ray Ozzie snapshot in Wired – read the full article.  An excerpt:

To Ozzie, software's soul does not lie in the accumulation of features. Instead, it lies in his dream of connectivity. "Live Mesh is very Ray," Mitch Kapor says. "It's the son of Groove, which is the son of Notes." Which was, of course, the son of Ozzie's beloved Plato. Thirty-three years later, Ozzie is still trying to build on what he saw in sophomore year. But it's no longer the Ray Ozzie vision. It's Microsoft's.

Ray Ozzie Wants to Push Microsoft Back Into Startup Mode

Facebook targeted Web 2.0 start-up Twitter: report - Yahoo! News

Interesting times

Social networking company Facebook recently held acquisition talks with Twitter, the micro-blogging company, the Financial Times said.

The negotiations, put a valuation of as much as $500 million on Twitter, which has become one of Silicon Valley's most closely watched start-ups, the paper said.

Facebook targeted Web 2.0 start-up Twitter: report - Yahoo! News

Details On Silverlight 3 | Sarah In Tampa | Channel 10

Hmm – see the full post for more details

According to Scott, Silverlight 3 is going to be shipped next year and will include several additional features, only some of which he could reveal now. With the new version of Silverlight, there will be major media enhancements, (including support for H.264/AAC video), major graphics enhancements (including 3D support and GPU hardware acceleration), and major application development enhancements (including richer data-binding support and additional controls). Also next year, Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer Express will support a fully editable and interactive designer for Silverlight and will add tool support for data-binding

Details On Silverlight 3 Sarah In Tampa Channel 10

Microsoft Examines Causes of ‘Cyberchondria’ - NYTimes.com

Check the full article for more details

If that headache plaguing you this morning led you first to a Web search and then to the conclusion that you must have a brain tumor, you may instead be suffering from cyberchondria.

On Monday, Microsoft researchers published the results of a study of health-related Web searches on popular search engines as well as a survey of the company’s employees.

The study suggests that self-diagnosis by search engine frequently leads Web searchers to conclude the worst about what ails them.

I did some quick web research on this and learned that my blogging routine stems from a combination of obsessive-compulsive and attention deficit disorders.  Who knew?…

Microsoft Examines Causes of ‘Cyberchondria’ - NYTimes.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Symantec says Internet underground economy is organized and rich (CNET) by CNET: Yahoo! Tech

Read the full article for more details

Did you know that you can buy a keystroke logger for $23 or pay $10 to have someone host your phishing scam? Having a botnet at your fingertips will cost you $225, and a tool that exploits a vulnerability on a banking site averages $740 and runs as high as $3,000.

That's according to the Symantec Report on the Internet Underground Economy due to be released Monday.

Symantec researchers spent a year observing the chat among cybercriminals on IRC channels and forums on the Internet between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008 and were able to piece together a veritable menu of malicious code, as well as dig up detailed information on the exchange of highly prized financial information.

Symantec says Internet underground economy is organized and rich (CNET) by CNET: Yahoo! Tech

The Media Equation - Google Seduces With Utility - NYTimes.com

Read the full article for an example of how Google can win customer loyalty

But with video chat now enabled in my Gmail, how likely am I to click away? Some people worry that Google will take over the world. Through the sins of competence and innovation, the company has quietly and efficiently surrounded me.

“That’s our business model,” Mr. Schmidt said.

The Media Equation - Google Seduces With Utility - NYTimes.com

For Laid-Off Journalists, Free Blog Accounts - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times

The TypePad Journalist Bailout Program offers recently terminated bloggers and journalists a free pro account (worth $150 annually) on the company’s popular blogging platform. In addition to the free yearly membership, the 20 to 30 journalists who are accepted will receive professional tech support, placement on the company’s blog aggregation site, Blogs.com, and automatic enrollment in the company’s advertising revenue-sharing program.

For Laid-Off Journalists, Free Blog Accounts - NYTimes.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The BlackBerry Storm Challenges the iPhone - BusinessWeek

More positive than most of the other Storm reviews I’ve seen recently; see the full article

The new touchscreen BlackBerry Storm looks a little like an iPhone and behaves a bit like one, too. So its release is sure to spark a furious debate over which is better. That's the wrong question. Each is an outstanding product—and distinct, despite a few similar design flourishes. The correct question is, which is right for you?

It closes with what might become an interesting pattern

What's my choice? I'm an e-mail guy, working in an environment that supports BlackBerry but not corporate mail on an iPhone, so it's a no-brainer. But to get the best of both worlds, I also have an iPod touch, which isn't a phone but runs most of those cool iPhone programs.

The BlackBerry Storm Challenges the iPhone - BusinessWeek

Facebook's Land Grab in the Face of a Downturn - BusinessWeek

See the full article for a timely Facebook profile

As gloom descends on Silicon Valley, most startups and giants are growing cautious and cutting back. But not Facebook. The social-networking Web site sees a bleak economy as all the more reason to press ahead with aggressive plans for growth. "This is not the time for tech companies to be cutting back; this is the time to be hitting the accelerator," says Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member and investor.

Facebook's Land Grab in the Face of a Downturn - BusinessWeek

Vatican forgives John Lennon for Jesus quip | Reuters

Strange days indeed (more details)

"The remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a 'boast' by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll," Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said.

The article, marking the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' "The White Album," went on to praise the pop band.

Vatican forgives John Lennon for Jesus quip Reuters

Windows Live FolderShare Team Blog: Windows Live Sync replacing FolderShare: What you need to know

I’m glad to see FolderShare will continue, although I’m curious about the positioning, relative to Live Mesh.  See the full post for more details.  (Via LiveSide.net)

In December, we will release a new product called Windows Live Sync. You can think of it as FolderShare 2.0. It's going to look familiar and offer the same great features, plus:

  • More folders and files - sync up to 20 folders with 20,000 files each.
  • Integration with Windows Live ID - no more extra sign-in stuff to remember.
  • Integration with the Recyle Bin - no more separate Trash folder to fiddle with.
  • New client versions for both Windows and Mac. 
  • Unicode support - sync files in other languages.

Windows Live FolderShare Team Blog: Windows Live Sync replacing FolderShare: What you need to know

Novelties - The Online Search Party - A Way to Share the Load - NYTimes.com

Another form of collaboration

Now tools are being developed by Microsoft and other companies that let people at different computers search as a team, dividing responsibilities and pooling results and recommendations in a shared Web space on the browser display as they plan a family vacation, for instance, or research a medical problem.

Meredith Ringel Morris, a computer scientist at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., has created one of these collaborative tools, SearchTogether, now available in a test version as a free download at http://research.microsoft.com/searchtogether. The program is designed to work within the Internet Explorer 7 browser.

Novelties - The Online Search Party - A Way to Share the Load - NYTimes.com

OOXML standards finally published and available free! - O'Reilly Broadcast

Excerpt from a snapshot by Rick Jelliffe:

These standards are useful for several reasons:

1) They provide very detailed, public and usable information about the information exchanged by Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) including information that was discovered and disclosed during the process. For example, the exact conversion factors used in Excel for fluid measures. Public information needs to be free, and no tied up in mysterious or encumbered formats.

2) It will be the format used for the next generation of Office software. Trivial changes from the ECMA 376 specification (which is, excluding any minor SNAFUs, the native format of Office 2007) that were required by the ISO review process (changes I regard as completely bizarre) means that Office 2007 does not currently generate conformant IS29500 in a couple of trivial areas (e.g. "yes" must be "true" or "1".)

See the full post for more reasons and analysis.

OOXML standards finally published and available free! - O'Reilly Broadcast

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Even Google scales back on holiday fun (Reuters) by Reuters: Yahoo! Tech

I guess we really are in a recession…

Google has fared better than most tech companies, but departments at the Internet company will have smaller events this year to encourage camaraderie between employees and celebrate more economically, said the source. Team holiday activities will include spending an afternoon volunteering followed by evening social activities such as dinner parties and museum outings in San Francisco.

This is a striking difference from previous years, when Google holiday parties included ice sculptures of the company's logo, virtual reality video game stations, karaoke booths, sushi buffets and burlesque dancers.

Even Google scales back on holiday fun (Reuters) by Reuters: Yahoo! Tech

Five reasons Sun won't be acquired | Business Tech - CNET News

Read the full article to review the five reasons

Sun Microsystems last week launched its second major restructuring for the year--with good reason.

The company posted a sizable $1.68 billion net loss in its fiscal first quarter last month, amid a 7 percent decline in revenue, as its traditional business of high- to midrange servers running on Sparc processors took a hit. Add to that a steep sell-off of its stock over the past 12 months, falling from about $25 a share earlier in the year to close at $3.02 a share on Friday.

For the embattled tech titan that's lost its allure over the years, a dramatic restructuring is virtually the only option to make good for Sun's investors--given prospective buyers aren't around, say some investment bankers and private equity players.

Here are five reasons why Sun won't be acquired, even if its stock is trading at dramatically low prices […]

One of my favorite Larry Ellison lines is “Every ecosystem needs a scavenger”; he said it in response to a reporter’s question about Computer Associates, when it was gobbling up second- and third-tier DBMS vendors many years ago (see this classic charlesf post for more context).  The CNet author isn’t thinking like a scavenger, and I think Sun’s days as an independent company are about to come to an end.

Back to the five reasons: Sun parts are worth more than its current market cap at this point, especially when the competitive potential, e.g., of IBM or Oracle (or Microsoft…) controlling Java, is factored into the analysis.  In a net-present-value equation, Sun’s patent portfolio alone is probably worth $Bs.

At its current stock price, Sun is worth $2.23B.  That’s about $1B more than Sun paid for MySQL AB at the end of February 2008.  Maybe Sun exists at this point primarily so Jerry Yang can have something to point to and say “It could be worse!”

Five reasons Sun won't be acquired | Business Tech - CNET News

The Screens Issue - If You Liked This, Sure to Love That - Winning the Netflix Prize - NYTimes.com

An extensive and fascinating snapshot of collaborative filtering

In one sense, collaborative filtering is less personalized than a store clerk. The clerk, in theory anyway, knows a lot about you, like your age and profession and what sort of things you enjoy; she can even read your current mood. (Are you feeling lousy? Maybe it’s not the day for “Apocalypse Now.”) A collaborative-filtering program, in contrast, knows very little about you — only what you’ve bought at a Web site and whether you rated it highly or not. But the computer has numbers on its side. It may know only a little bit about you, but it also knows a little bit about a huge number of other people. This lets it detect patterns we often cannot see on our own. For example, Maes’s music-recommendation system discovered that people who like classical music also like the Beatles. It is an epiphany that perhaps make sense when you think about it for a second, but it isn’t immediately obvious.

The Screens Issue - If You Liked This, Sure to Love That - Winning the Netflix Prize - NYTimes.com

Google Unplugs Lively as Hype Fades Over Virtual Worlds - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Hmm…

Online virtual worlds were dealt a heavy helping of reality this week.

First off, Google announced that its Lively experiment will shut down at the end of the year. The Web-based portal to all things virtual only started in July, making this one of Google’s shorter experiments.

[…]

Meanwhile, a reporter that Reuters once paid to document life from within Second Life has come out with a confession that life within the online game wasn’t all that grand.

Google Unplugs Lively as Hype Fades Over Virtual Worlds - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Europeana Goes Online and Is Then Overwhelmed - NYTimes.com

Oops…

A new digital library of Europe’s cultural heritage crashed just hours after it went online and will be out of operation for several weeks, the European Commission said Friday, attributing the embarrassing failure to overwhelming public interest.

Europeana, a Web site of two million documents, images, video and audio clips, opened on Thursday with international publicity and acclaim from researchers. But by Friday, those trying to log on were greeted with a message telling them that the service may not be running again until mid-December, while computer capacity is upgraded.

Europeana Goes Online and Is Then Overwhelmed - NYTimes.com

Sip from the Firehose : Memories of Turbo Pascal version 1.0 - Anders Hejlsberg, United States

Check the full post for some Turbo Pascal 1.0 details, and check this blog view for comments from other Borland people from c1983.

Anders Hejlsberg is the original author of the Turbo Pascal compiler. Anders was also chief architect of Delphi.  He is now a Technical Fellow at Microsoft and chief designer of the C# language.  In 2001, Anders received the Dr. Dobbs Excellence in Programming Award at the Software Development 2001 Conference. Today, November 20, 2008 is the 25th anniversary of the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Turbo Pascal version 1.0!

A post titled “Turbo Pascal version 1.0 - What was happening in the industry during 1983?” is also fun reading.

I bought a copy of Turbo Pascal for my trusty Kaypro 4  in early 1984.  It was an amazing experience, especially compared with the expensive and clunky compiler alternatives of that time. 

For an update on what Anders Hejlsberg has been up to lately, and his views on the next phase of development tools/framework evolution, check out this PDC 2008 session -- “The Future of C#

Sip from the Firehose : Memories of Turbo Pascal version 1.0 - Anders Hejlsberg, United States

Friday, November 21, 2008

Amazon.com: Seamless Teamwork: Using Microsoft® SharePoint® Technologies to Collaborate, Innovate, and Drive Business in New Ways

Seamless Teamwork is a timely and useful resource for information workers who want to understand how to use Microsoft SharePoint in order to foster effective collaboration.  The book explains key SharePoint concepts and tools, along with complementary offerings from Microsoft (e.g., Outlook, OneNote, and Groove) and other software vendors (e.g., Colligo). 

Michael Sampson has written an engaging narrative, structured around real-world collaboration needs and solutions; he explains not just what SharePoint does, but also the business context and policies required to successfully deploy and use it as a collaboration platform.

Amazon.com: Seamless Teamwork: Using Microsoft® SharePoint® Technologies to Collaborate, Innovate, and Drive Business in New Ways

Engelbart and the Dawn of Interactive Computing: A 40th Anniversary Celebration

2008/12/09 at Stanford – see the event page for details

They call it the "mother of all demos".

On December 9, 1968, Dr. Douglas C. Engelbart and the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at Stanford Research Institute staged a 90-minute public multimedia demonstration at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. It was the world debut of personal and interactive computing: for the first time, the public saw a computer mouse, which controlled a networked computer system to demonstrate hypertext linking, real-time text editing, multiple windows with flexible view control, cathode display tubes, and shared-screen teleconferencing.

It changed what is possible. The 1968 demo presaged many of the technologies we use today, from personal computing to social networking. The demo embodied Doug Engelbart's vision of solving humanity's most important problems by using computers to improve communication and collaboration.

On December 9, 2008 at Stanford University's Memorial Auditorium, SRI International will present a commemorative 40th anniversary of this historic event. Join us to hear original participants recount what led up to the 1968 demo, the drama of the demonstration itself, and its impact—which no one could have imagined at the time. Learn about Doug Engelbart's vision to use computing to augment society's collective intellect and ability to solve the complex issues of our time.

Bummer this 4.5-hour event apparently won’t be webcast :(

(via Greg Lloyd)

Engelbart and the Dawn of Interactive Computing: A 40th Anniversary Celebration

'Soul of the Web' At Stake | The Intelligent Enterprise Blog

An excerpt from a snapshot of themes at a recent Mashup Camp event (see the full post for more details):

The battle for the Web is forming between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, on the one hand, and OpenAjax on the other. The topic came up during a panel discussion on "Why Ajax Standards Matter," which didn't sound too promising going in. Things started getting really interesting when Christopher Keene, CEO of WaveMaker Software, warned, "there's a struggle for the soul of the Web," where rich Internet and Web application development is concerned, and "proprietary engines like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight are coming on strong."

I expect we’ll see a lot of debate in this context over the next couple years, but it’s important to consider a few related facts:

1. AJAX, Flash, and Silverlight are obviously not mutually exclusive. While Adobe sometimes seems a bit obsessed with AIR app scenarios, most Flash and Silverlight apps are browser-based, and integrate with rather than displacing AJAX user experiences.

2. Adobe and Microsoft are – by a very wide margin – the leading AJAX tool/platform/service vendors; anyone who thinks either Adobe or Microsoft is out to somehow subvert or privatize the open ecosystem of the Internet isn’t looking at the bigger picture.

3. While OpenAjax advocates may have lofty aspirations, and while the OpenAjax membership list is impressive, I get the distinct sense OpenAjax started (see “how it was born” on the About OpenAjax Alliance page) as an unsubtle attempt on the part of several vendors to have their models and technologies established as quasi-standards – perhaps in part because of the Internet momentum Adobe and Microsoft collectively represent. It is not clear to me, for example, why OpenAjax Alliance is needed if the W3C is still operating effectively.

So, netting it out, imho the debate should be focused more on how Adobe, Microsoft, and other vendors are helping to advance the Internet information model, as guided by the W3C and other standards groups; it’s definitely not a simple OpenAjax = good, Flash and Silverlight = evil dichotomy.

'Soul of the Web' At Stake | The Intelligent Enterprise Blog

Sync Your Live Writer Drafts With Mesh | Sarah In Tampa | Channel 10

Interesting to see examples of Live Mesh usage scenarios popping up

If you’re a blogger, then you’re probably familiar with the Windows Live Writer program, arguably one of the best blogging tools out there. However, because this program is a desktop software application, the drafts you saved on one computer aren’t available on all your machines…that is, unless you have Live Mesh. With Live Mesh installed, you can sync your Live Writer drafts between all the devices in your Mesh. For me, this was a no-brainer. I sync all my documents, so the drafts folder just came with the rest of them.

See the rest of the post for more details.

To add a folder to Live Mesh – go into Windows Explorer, pick the folder, and right click, as in:

image

Sync Your Live Writer Drafts With Mesh Sarah In Tampa Channel 10

StickySorter (Microsoft Office Labs prototype)

This could be handy, if you’re into the sticky-for-problem-structuring routine

StickySorter is an Office Labs sponsored spare-time project by two Microsoft employees, Julie and Sumit. The idea sprung from the need for project teams all over the world to gather and organize data using a collaborative process known as affinity diagramming.  Since its inception, StickySorter has evolved into a desktop application so anyone can use it to collaborate and organize ideas electronically, using a familiar sticky note interface.

View Slide Show

StickySorter

New iPhone Apps Help Drivers Beat Speed Traps - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Virtual headlight flashing for the iPhone

NMobile and Trapster are two mobile applications that provide up-to-date, detailed maps of speed-enforcement zones with live police traps, speed cameras or red-light cameras. After launching, each application pulls up a map pinpointing the locations of speed traps within driving distance. An audio alert will sound as vehicles approach an area tagged as harboring a speed trap.

Both applications rely on the wisdom of the crowds for their data.

New iPhone Apps Help Drivers Beat Speed Traps - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Yahoo remains in talks with AOL - The Boston Globe

Not exactly reassuring…

Yahoo and AOL combined could save as much as $300 million to $500 million a year with workforce reductions and real estate savings, said Sachin Shah, an analyst with ICAP Corporates LLC in Jersey City.

A transaction that values AOL at about $6 billion would make sense for Yahoo, assuming AOL can continue to receive payments from its Internet-search partnership with Google, Lindsay said. Google agreed to pay $1 billion for 5 percent of AOL in 2005.

Seems Google and/or Microsoft have key roles in every feasible Yahoo! permutation

Yahoo remains in talks with AOL - The Boston Globe

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Xbox.com | New Xbox Experience [and related Netflix/Windows 7/Windows Live musings]

More details on Xbox LIVE + Netflix

Netflix instantly streaming in HD: The New Xbox Experience isn't the only thing that will look great on your TV. Netflix is taking the first step by instantly streaming movies and TV episodes in high definition with the introduction of approximately 300 choices in HD via Xbox 360, including La Vie en Rose, Flawless, and Heroes. Xbox 360 is the only Netflix-ready device to offer high-definition movies and TV episodes.

I upgraded our Xbox 360 the latest software last night, and signed up for Xbox LIVE Gold ($49.99/year – I had let our family subscription expire/revert to the Silver level a long ago, since we weren’t using many of the related services), mostly to explore the new Netflix service integration.

The Xbox-based Netflix service presented a code that I entered (via a PC) on a Netflix sign-up page, and presto – I can select movie and TV content from the Netflix “Watch Instantly” catalog, click the “Add to Instant” action, and the selected items automagically show up on the Xbox-based Netflix view.

I tested a few selections, including streaming a “30 Rock” episode in HD, and it worked flawlessly. I’m sure there will be some issues with the new service for a while (e.g., a Netflix licensing issue with Sony), and also suspect “actual results may vary” (considerably) for people who have their Xbox 360 consoles Internet-connected wirelessly (mine has a wired connection), but I’m impressed, and I’m looking forward to sending/receiving fewer Netflix DVDs, in the future. See this Netflix page for more details on the service, supported device types, etc.

A few observations and projections:

1. This is an intriguing hybrid service scenario – my relationship with Netflix now encompasses several devices, and my Xbox LIVE identity is mapped to my Netflix identity. It was intuitive to add content to my new “instant” queue via the Netflix browser client, and very cool to have the selections instantly appear via my Xbox rather than via DVDs in my mailbox a few days later. I can also access my instant queue on a PC, and -- again intuitively and sensibly -- the content I started watching via my Xbox last night resumes where I left off last night, when I play it via my PC. (Now Netflix knows both what I watch and that I evidently have chronic attention deficit disorder issues…)

2. With the media streaming and Device Stage features planned for Windows 7 (see this blog post for an overview), and with the myriad (and increasingly intertwingled) Windows Live, Office Live, Xbox LIVE, and Microsoft partner services, it’s compelling to imagine near-term future scenarios in which my service provider relationships and my digital stuff are seamlessly accessible via multiple devices, with my PC being my primary control point. Some people will probably prefer interacting primarily via their TV-connected devices, or perhaps their smartphones, but I suspect a lot of people will prefer their PCs for exploring – and sharing -- their ever-expanding collections of digital stuff and devices.

3. The user experience model will be pivotal – a lot of the capabilities will remain untapped if people don’t understand the underlying conceptual models, and a lot of that will entail unlearning constraints and conventions from earlier phases of personal computing – which in turn are, in many cases, conceptual model constraints (regrettably…) carried forward from pre-digital media, e.g., the concept that an information item resides in a single subdirectory on a single device.

4. On a note related to the Adobe MAX event this week, and the expanding competition between Flash and Silverlight, Netflix is currently testing a Silverlight client for Windows and Mac users (see this Netflix blog post for more details). I’m just guessing, since Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is also a Microsoft board member, that probably Netflix won’t be leading with Flash instead of Silverlight anytime soon…

5. A couple "green" aspects: there's no additional cost, for Xbox LIVE Gold and Netflix subscribers, and I'll be receiving/sending fewer DVDs via snail mail, in the future -- pretty cool...

Xbox.com New Xbox Experience [and related Netflix/Windows 7/Windows Live musings]

A Google Docs reality check roundup

Microsoft’s analyst relations group provided me with some timely info and links.  Their summary:

·         Nearly 500 million users of Microsoft Office overall
·         Actual usage of Microsoft Office solutions: 403 minutes (source: ComScore) [compares to ~5 minutes per month for many Google Docs users]
·         68 million people per month visit Office Online
·         1 million people using Office Live Workspace to share and collaborate

The Microsoft inputs included independent surveys summarized in the following links:

Google deal produces 91% of Mozilla's [2007] revenue [Computerworld]

Hmm – read the full article for more details.

The Mozilla Foundation's revenue was up 13% in 2007 over the year before, as the organization continued to profit from its partnership with search giant Google Inc., Mozilla's chairman said today.

"Our revenue remains strong; our expenses focused," said Mitchell Baker, Mozilla's current chairman and the former CEO of Mozilla Corp., in a post to her blog.

On a related note, see CNet’s Mozilla Chairman Unfazed by Google Chrome

Google deal produces 91% of Mozilla's revenue

HP® Official Store — Buy an HP MediaSmart Server EX470 (GG795AA#ABA) from HP

Hardware reality check of the week:

Have multiple PCs on a home network? Want the flexibility to enjoy your digital experiences from anywhere over the Internet? Check out our MediaSmart Server EX470, which provides remote access to files on the server1, automatic backup of all networked PCs, media streaming3 across your home network, a photo sharing Web site, and virtually limitless storage expandability (500GB plus three empty expansion bays).

This home server is based on Microsoft's Windows Home Server operating system and supports 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) Ethernet and both wired and wireless networking (requires wireless router). AMD Live! 64-bit processing power supplies fast file access and timely backups. The sleek micro-tower is quiet and designed to complement the d├ęcor of your home office or living room.

And the price after rebates?  $399.99, with free shipping.  See this blog post for a pointer to an additional $30 discount.

HP® Official Store — Buy an HP MediaSmart Server EX470 (GG795AA#ABA) from HP

IEBlog : IE8: What’s After Beta 2

Speaking of massive databases…  See the full post for more details on the IE8 schedule.

Since the release of Beta 2, the team has been absorbed in the data we get from real people about the product. We have combed through instrumentation of over 20 million IE sessions and hundreds of hours of usability lab sessions. Together with IE MVPs, we have scrutinized thousands of threads from user forums and examined the issues that people are raising (not to mention all the times users opt to “Report a Webpage Problem…”). We have also spent hundreds of hours listening and answering questions in meetings with partners and other important organizations. We simply could not deliver IE8 the way our customers and developers want us to without all this information. We also received a lot of feedback about how we transitioned from the IE7 beta releases to the IE7 final release, and as a result, we want to be clear about the plan for IE8.

We will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release.

IEBlog : IE8: What’s After Beta 2

Platformonomics - A Little Sunshine

Charlesf on Sun’s trajectory; see the full post for more insights

So what happens next?  At one point today, if you netted out cash, Sun as a business was worth about $4 million (less with committed downsizing costs).  Maybe Fujitsu gets interested again as they unwind their Siemens partnership.  They would probably pay $4 million for SPARC.  But with the cash position, anyone could come along and cherry pick a very small asset out of Sun and walk away from the rest.  Maybe the econalypse (I am still looking for a good name for the "current economic situation" -- leave any ideas in the comments) precludes this, but current Sun situation isn't sustainable.

I still think a joint HP/Oracle deal would optimize what remains of Sun (e.g., HP takes Sun’s hardware and services, and Oracle takes Sun’s software and related patents)

Platformonomics - A Little Sunshine

Technology Review: How Google's Ear Hears

Another example of Google leveraging its search-related database

[…] Google also has a huge amount of data on how people use search, and it was able to use that to train its algorithms. If the system has trouble interpreting one word in a query, for instance, it can fall back on data about which terms are frequently grouped together.

Google also had a useful set of data correlating speech samples with written words, culled from its free directory service, Goog411. People call the service and say the name of a city and state, and then say the name of a business or category. According to Mike Cohen, a Google research scientist, voice samples from this service were the main source of acoustic data for training the system.

But the data that Google used to build the system pales in comparison to the data that it now has the chance to collect.

Technology Review: How Google's Ear Hears

BlackBerry’s Storm Presses Into the Touch-Phone Fray | Walt Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

Walt Mossberg on whether the iPhone will be taken by Storm; see the full review (no wsj.com subscription required) for more details

Overall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen. And it offers yet another good option for anyone who is looking to buy one of the new, more powerful, pocket computers.

BlackBerry’s Storm Presses Into the Touch-Phone Fray | Walt Mossberg | Personal Technology | AllThingsD

Microsoft Modifies Zune Service - WSJ.com

Zune evolution continues

The changes by the Redmond, Wash., company to its Zune Pass subscription music service will, beginning Thursday, give users ten songs a month that they can keep permanently along with access to a library of more than four million tracks that they can listen to only for as long as they subscribe to the $14.99-a-month service. The Zune Pass monthly fee previously include song rentals, but no tracks that users could permanently keep.

Microsoft Modifies Zune Service - WSJ.com

PC Magazine will switch to online-only operation - The Boston Globe

Another print media milestone

Ziff Davis Media said yesterday that it was ending print publication of its 27-year-old flagship PC Magazine and would make the title online-only.

It is the latest of several magazine publishers to drop a print edition as advertising revenue plummets and the cost of printing a paper version rises.

PC Magazine will switch to online-only operation - The Boston Globe

Plan to shutter newsstand pierces heart of Harvard Sq. - The Boston Globe

A sad sign of the print media times

John Kenneth Galbraith bought a copy of Le Monde there every day. Julia Child searched for obscure Italian and German cooking magazines, and Robert Frost once stopped by - it actually was a snowy evening - to get directions to a reading. Over the years, pretty much anyone looking for news from far and near, be they eminent professors or the masses rushing to work on the Red Line, found it at Out of Town News.

But the landmark shop, an axis at the center of Harvard Square's bustle, may be about to go away.

Plan to shutter newsstand pierces heart of Harvard Sq. - The Boston Globe

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Doug Mahugh : Publication of ISO/IEC 29500 (Office Open XML)

Open XML is now a published ISO standard

It's official: ISO announced today the publication of the final text of ISO/IEC 29500, the Office Open XML specification. This includes all of the changes agreed to at the BRM, including the strict-vs-transitional structure and many others from the various national bodies involved.

Doug Mahugh : Publication of ISO/IEC 29500 (Office Open XML)

Will Microsoft's antivirus move draw antitrust fire? | Beyond Binary - CNET News

And while they’re at it, maybe the anti-trust types should also force the automobile industry to stop including restraint systems, as doing so precludes a vibrant independent restraint system industry…

It's unclear whether giving away software that others charge for will ultimately be enough to justify regulatory action. Although one antitrust lawyer predicts rival security firms will complain and that antitrust authorities will listen.

"Sure, there will be antitrust issues. They're just...daring the antitrust authorities to knock it off," said Daniel Wall of the San Francisco firm of Latham & Watkins. "This is an old issue, the notion of them giving away for free products that others sell and it is absolutely guaranteed to get the attention of the antitrust authorities in Europe, Korea, Japan, and other jurisdictions."

Will Microsoft's antivirus move draw antitrust fire? | Beyond Binary - CNET News

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Decho To Offer API Access to All Your Life's Data - ReadWriteWeb

Your daily Decho dose…

Now a part of the new company Decho, Pi's web site contains little more than a tasty description of an unlaunched data-centered personal information service. The site says Pi intends to build on the metaphors of search, subscription, aggregation and publishing for both manual and automatic consumption.

See this paragraph, for example:

"One of the failings of today's tools is that it is hard to get back the complete context of a task. Think of being in a meeting and all the items of information that are relevant: presentations, a list of attendees, private notes by you, notes you wish to share, notes by others, action items. Today it is surprisingly cumbersome to capture all this information in a way that is easy to get back to, and if needs be share with others.

At Pi we intend to solve this problem."

Decho To Offer API Access to All Your Life's Data - ReadWriteWeb

MLB.com drops Silverlight for Adobe Flash | Digital Media - CNET News

A very timely win for Adobe – Flash is now used for MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL sports franchises. 

Microsoft is losing MLB.com, Major League Baseball's online unit and one of the Web's most successful subscription services, as a Silverlight customer.

MLB Advanced Media said Monday it will use Adobe's Flash Platform to deliver all live and on-demand video starting next year.

The deal, announced at the Adobe Max conference running in San Francisco this week, hands Adobe one of the largest and likely most profitable video services out there.

MLB.com drops Silverlight for Adobe Flash | Digital Media - CNET News

Page 2 - Adobe Advances Flash Platform with New AIR, Cloud, Flex Solutions

Start on page 1 of this article for an overview of the news at Adobe MAX.  An interesting competitive dimension:

In an attempt to not be outdone as Adobe celebrates its success at its annual user/developer conference, Microsoft weighed in with a few points around its Flash competitor, Silverlight. Scott Guthrie, a corporate vice president in the Microsoft Developer Division, blogged about Silverlight's successes and rehashes several recent announcements to hype the platform. The one new thing he mentions is but a tease.

The Flash/Silverlight competition is going to remain  relentless – a very positive dynamic for developers/designers seeking to create compelling “rich Internet applications” across a variety of platforms (OS and browser) and device types. 

Page 2 - Adobe Advances Flash Platform with New AIR, Cloud, Flex Solutions

A New Dawn in Home Entertainment for Everyone Begins Nov. 19: New Xbox Experience ushers in a new era of entertainment with Netflix, plus partnerships with movie studios throughout the world.

See the full press release for a list of other new Xbox Experience services

With the launch of the New Xbox Experience, Xbox 360 owners will enjoy a limitless world where the best games, movies and TV shows are ready to share with friends across the globe through Xbox LIVE:

Netflix instantly streaming in HD. The New Xbox Experience isn’t the only thing that will look great on your TV. Netflix is taking the first step by instantly streaming movies and TV episodes in high definition with the introduction of approximately 300 choices in HD via Xbox 360, including “La Vie en Rose,” “Flawless” and “Heroes.” Xbox 360 is the only Netflix-ready device to offer high-definition movies and TV episodes.

A New Dawn in Home Entertainment for Everyone Begins Nov. 19

Jerry Yang, Yahoo Chief, Steps Down - NYTimes.com

A stark reality check

“It’s definitely positive from a shareholder perspective,” said Ross Sandler, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “Jerry has done less than a stellar job after taking the reins from Terry Semel last year, not just completely botching the Microsoft deal but with poor execution and multiple company restructurings that have done little to restore confidence of any of Yahoo’s shareholders, employees or customers.”

Jerry Yang, Yahoo Chief, Steps Down - NYTimes.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

Press Release: EMC Forms Decho Corporation To Address The Growing Personal Information Challenge

More Decho details

The personal information once stored in albums, boxes and filing cabinets-such as financial records, personal documents, family photos and videos, portfolios of professional work, and correspondence-comprises each person's digital echo. This information is increasingly scattered across different computers, digital devices and web sites. The quantity of personal digital information produced every year around the world is now measured in the hundreds of billions of gigabytes and is expected to continue to grow annually by almost 60 percent, according to analysts. Moreover, the lifespan of this information is beginning to be measured in decades, and it is ever more valuable and often irreplaceable.

The shift of personal information from physical to digital has not yet been accompanied by a parallel shift in the way this information is organized and preserved in digital form. Decho will help individuals take full control of their digital echo through a set of cloud-based services that will enable easy and full utilization, organization and enrichment of important personal information.

Press Release: EMC Forms Decho Corporation To Address The Growing Personal Information Challenge

EMC creates cloud startup Decho - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source

More Decho

Here's what [Decho vice president of product management Charles] Fitzgerald had to say on each of the big competitors in the cloud computing arena as well as a few startups:

On Google:

"People look at Google and say: 'Oh, Google has built this great generic cloud infrastructure.' They haven't. They have built a great infrastructure totally optimized for search... You see this when you are trying to put Gmail on top of that infrastructure. It had operational issues. But the even bigger issue, is they have a cost issue. It is just inefficient."

See the full article for more charlesf perspectives

EMC creates cloud startup Decho - TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source

EMC launches new data security firm, Decho - Massachusetts Biotech and Technology News and New England Local Business News

One to watch

Enterprise software giant EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) has spun off recent acquisitions Mozy Inc. and Pi Corp. into a new personal data security company to be called Decho Corp. The company will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Hopkinton-based EMC, officials said.

[…]

Using the Mozy brand name, Decho will provide cloud-based personal information management that will back up important data, protect sensitive data and allow individuals to control their “digital echo,” according to EMC.

EMC launches new data security firm, Decho - Massachusetts Biotech and Technology News and New England Local Business News

TiVo, Domino's to let subscribers order through TV (AP) by AP: Yahoo! Tech

Okay, this may seem a bit goofy, but think about the scenario as a leading indicator of future mainstream trends…

Digital video recording company TiVo Inc. said Monday it is teaming up with Domino's Pizza Inc. to allow subscribers to order pizza for delivery or pick-up from their TV sets.

"This is the first time in history that the 'on-demand' generation will be able to fully experience couch commerce by ordering pizza directly through their television set," said Rob Weisberg, vice president of precision and print marketing at Domino's.

TiVo, Domino's to let subscribers order through TV (AP) by AP: Yahoo! Tech

Ed Brill [clever Notes advertising]

Via Ed Brill’s blog – check out the resume link referenced below.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lotus® ND8 (Notes Domino® 8) and I believe I possess the attributes necessary to improve collaboration within your business.
Now, I know you might not be hiring at the moment -- and have a previous version of me -- but I'd really appreciate it if you took a moment to look at my attached resume. I have an excellent employment record, have been trained in a wide array of fields and am well recognised for my efficiency, effectiveness and robust nature. I'm capable of leading a team or working as part of a group, and classify myself as an enthusiastic self-starter able to work across multiple locations around the world.
If you're still not satisfied after seeing my resume, I'll give you the opportunity to come and see me working in person. That way, you can judge whether I'd make a valuable contribution to your organisation.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Ed Brill

Adobe - Adobe Press Room: Adobe MAX 2008 Showcases Future of Digital Experiences

A MAX keynote preview; see the full press release for more details

In his keynote this morning, Narayen will share his worldview of how changes in the economy, evolving demographics and shifting consumer behavior are raising expectations for technology. Consumers and businesses have moved from a single screen world, to a multi-screen experience with the lines between work and home disappearing.

Lynch will speak to the trends that are driving how people are connecting from wherever they are - whether it is on a PC, mobile device or television. He’ll explore the impact of these trends across three major areas of innovation: how software is developed and experienced across multiple screens; the impact of cloud computing on next-generation Web applications; and how the growth of social networking is transforming software development and the nature of digital experiences.

Adobe - Adobe Press Room: For immediate release

Adobe wants to bridge gap between PCs and cloud | Business Tech - CNET News

A timely snapshot – excerpt (see the full article for more details):

Adobe will be touting new AIR and Flash tools at the show, too, though only in "technology preview" form:

• Alchemy, to be shown Tuesday, lets programs written in the C or C++ languages, run within Flash Player. That could help companies repurposing in-house software.

• "Gumbo," a new version of Adobe Flex Builder, is designed to make programming easier for those familiar with scripting languages such as PHP, Turner said.

• "Thermo," formally called Adobe Flash Catalyst, is designed to let people quickly create an application's interface in another application--by Adobe Illustrator CS4 for example--then add the interactive instructions to the interface elements.

Flash and Flex have rivals, though. Most obvious is Microsoft's Silverlight, which has begun to spread, and which has the advantage of compatibility with the .Net programming environment and language many Windows programmers already are familiar with.

Adobe is aware of the Silverlight threat, though. For example, When Microsoft started touting its high-definition video support, Adobe put the Flash Player 10 development on hold, added the feature to Flash Player 9 to answer Microsoft more quickly, then resumed development of version 10, [Adobe CTO Kevin] Lynch said.

It’ll be interesting to see how Adobe’s “client and cloud” compares with Microsoft’s “software + services”

Adobe wants to bridge gap between PCs and cloud | Business Tech - CNET News

One Laptop Per Child Gets a Marketing Push - NYTimes.com

Going to extremes…

The advertising time is donated, and the spots are expected to start conversations. One spot is an uplifting vision of a 7-year-old girl in a South African township, sitting in a dark room, her face lighted only by the laptop’s glow. “With education, we will solve our own problems,” she says.

Another TV spot says children learn quickly, whatever their tools of survival are — whether loading an AK-47 or mastering an XO laptop. Other settings show child labor camps and child prostitutes. “There are some very challenging scenes,” said Paul Lavoie, chairman of Taxi, the agency that created the ads.

Since OLPC has already Osborned itself by previewing its OLPC 2.0 plans, however, I don’t know how effective this campaign will be

One Laptop Per Child Gets a Marketing Push - NYTimes.com

A Computing Pioneer Has a New Idea - NYTimes.com

See the full article for an overview of a potential breakthrough

Today’s supercomputers are assembled from thousands or even tens of thousands of microprocessors, and they often consume as much electricity as a small city. Moreover, they can prove to be frightfully difficult to program. Many new supercomputers try to deal with the challenge of solving different classes of problems by connecting different kinds of processors together Lego-style. This can give programmers fits.

For decades, computer designers have struggled with different ways to sidestep the complexity of programming multiple chips, in order to break up problems into pieces to be computed simultaneously so that they can be solved more quickly.

A Computing Pioneer Has a New Idea - NYTimes.com

Technology Review: Expanding the Mobile Web

See the full article for more details, e.g., iPhone users won’t participate…

Today, in an effort to bring more of the Web to mobile devices, Adobe and microchip maker ARM, which powers 90 percent of mobile phones worldwide, have announced a collaboration to ensure that Adobe's software runs well on future ARM devices.

Specifically, the companies say that Adobe's Flash Player 10 and AIR (a platform for building complex Web applications) will be compatible and optimized for the ARM chips available in 2009. While ARM is used in a huge number of mobile phones, the announcement has broader implications: the chips are also used in set-top boxes, mobile Internet devices, personal media players, and automotive platforms.

I’m at Adobe MAX this week and will be adding more Adobe-related posts over the next few days.

Technology Review: Expanding the Mobile Web

Saturday, November 15, 2008

SAP and Microsoft, Watch Your Back - BusinessWeek

A timely snapshot, but I don’t think Google has a strategic or structural competitive advantage in this context

Google Apps, Linux, and other free or inexpensive systems are winning more fans in the corporate world

[…]

These technologies existed during the last recession, but they were immature. Now they're established, and the downturn seems likely to hasten their adoption. Chief among them are software delivered over the Internet, known as cloud computing, such as Google Apps; so-called virtualization software, which allows companies to run multiple applications on a single server computer; and open-source software, which is created collaboratively by multiple companies and is typically less expensive than the traditional kind. "These are tools that management can use to get through a crisis," says Michael Hickey, president of the Business Insight Div. of Pitney Bowes in Stamford, Conn., who just bought software from on-demand supplier Salesforce.com.

SAP and Microsoft, Watch Your Back - BusinessWeek

Obama to Address the Nation Each Week on YouTube - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times

President elect Obama will bring the President's weekly "fireside chat" into the 21st century by offering it not just on the radio, but in video on YouTube as well. It's as if the new populist President really cares whether the next generation has a connection to what he's doing. That's where the people are - on YouTube, on MySpace and on Facebook.

More people will watch the President's talks than ever before, and they will post video responses. That's pretty remarkable.

Obama to Address the Nation Each Week on YouTube - NYTimes.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

Study Finds Google Docs Struggles to Gain Foothold in Productivity Suite Market Dominated by Microsoft

A timely reality check; see the full article for more details

From May to November 2008, ClickStream Technologies' standing panel of adult U.S. internet users showed that use of free productivity applications such as Google Docs and OpenOffice remains low, while Microsoft Office is in use by over 50% of adult U.S. internet users and shows no signs of declining popularity.1

Of all free productivity applications observed, OpenOffice (a client application) was the most popular, in use by 5% of all users. OpenOffice also had the heaviest and highest frequency of use among free apps, with an average of 548 clicks performed and 8.7 days of use per user.

Google Docs (a web-based application) was the 2nd most popular free productivity app, used by 1% of users. Google docs also had the lightest use of all productivity apps, with an average of 40 actions performed in the app (compare with 548 in OpenOffice and 1,797 in Microsoft Word), and the fewest average days used during the 6-month period. Although 1% of users had Gears installed on their machine, there was no evidence of its use in conjunction with Google Docs, nor did any user click on “Offline” or “Get Google Gears now” in their Docs account.

Study Finds Google Docs Struggles to Gain Foothold in Productivity Suite Market Dominated by Microsoft

Real Dan Lyons Web Site » Blog Archive Sun to cut 6,000 «

A stark assessment from ffsj (the former fake Steve Jobs); read the whole post… 

See the press release here. It’s classic Sun doublespeak. See, it’s not that they’re totally screwed or being run into the ground or dying because of a decade of bad decisions — nope, they’re “aligning their business with the global economic climate” and “amplifying growth opportunities across open source platforms.” Sheesh. Hooboy. And they wonder why nobody takes them seriously anymore?

Real Dan Lyons Web Site » Blog Archive Sun to cut 6,000 «

Sun Micro Retrenches - WSJ.com

Wall Street may be appeased by this short-term move, but it’s part of an ominous pattern, in the bigger picture…

Sun Microsystems Inc. said it plans to cut 5,000 to 6,000 employees, or 15% to 18% of its work force, as part of a restructuring to respond to the economic slump.

Later in the article:

The company also announced the departure of Rich Green, executive vice president of software, who has been a high-profile leader of that business. He has chosen to leave the company, Sun said.

Sun Micro Retrenches - WSJ.com

The generation raised on the internet | The kids are alright | The Economist

Check the rest of the article for a review of Don Tapscott’s latest techno-optimistic book, Grown Up Digital.

WORRIES about the damage the internet may be doing to young people has produced a mountain of books—a suitably old technology in which to express concerns about the new. Robert Bly claims that, thanks to the internet, the “neo-cortex is finally eating itself”. Today’s youth may be web-savvy, but they also stand accused of being unread, bad at communicating, socially inept, shameless, dishonest, work-shy, narcissistic and indifferent to the needs of others.

I haven’t read the new Tapscott book – I frankly think I may have hit my lifetime quota of Tapscott books after reading Wikinomics -- but the Economist review suggests Tapscott is once again into accentuate-the-positive overdrive.

I recently read another book in this context, Born Digital, which is, imho, a well balanced survey of the pros and cons of the emerging “digital native” realities.

Coincidentally, I also attended a session on cyberbullying last night, presented by a speaker from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, which has some useful information resources available for download. Stark stuff, to put it mildly…

While I don’t doubt there is ample room for cautious optimism when it comes to digital natives and the cognitive and modus operandi evolution they represent, and while I also strongly agree we shouldn’t long for the days of children watching endless hours of mind-numbingly vapid television shows, it’s still critically important for people – especially parents – to stay focused on both the positive and negative potential in this increasingly digital and connected domain.

The generation raised on the internet | The kids are alright | The Economist

Digital Natives » Data Privacy Day + 4 Not So Obvious Privacy Tips

See the full post for some useful guidance

I was most interested in the educational materials for teenagers that were presented Data Privacy Day. They bring up some important points, and I’d like to add some of my own thoughts to them here. I’ve have tried to pick out tips about privacy that may not come across as immediately obvious. None of them are myth-busting, per se, but they probably aren’t things we think about the minute we hit the tempting “Sign Up” button. Since the material on Data Privacy Day mostly focuses on privacy on social networking sites, I’ll draw on some examples with Facebook, which I have the most personal experience in.

Digital Natives » Data Privacy Day + 4 Not So Obvious Privacy Tips

Microsoft Beats Yahoo and Google to Social Inbox 2.0 - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

I sense a distinct shift in the Microsoft-related tone in the mainstream press since PDC

Microsoft takes a lot of heat, much of it deserved, for its plodding nature and overly complex software. Since the services haven’t been introduced yet, I can’t tell how well these new Windows Live features work. But the fact that the company is the first to actually introduce social networking features to its e-mail is a sign of Microsoft’s discipline, or maybe the lack of resolve at Google and Yahoo. Or both.

Microsoft Beats Yahoo and Google to Social Inbox 2.0 - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Google Adds Searching by Voice to iPhone Software - NYTimes.com

Another example of Google coming late to a party (Microsoft and Yahoo! already offer similar services) and getting a lot of press anyway; see the full article for more details

Users of the free application, which Apple is expected to make available as soon as Friday through its iTunes store, can place the phone to their ear and ask virtually any question, like “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” or “How tall is Mount Everest?” The sound is converted to a digital file and sent to Google’s servers, which try to determine the words spoken and pass them along to the Google search engine.

Google Adds Searching by Voice to iPhone Software - NYTimes.com

Google's Consumers Are Checking Out - WSJ.com

Hmm…

Consumers are cutting back spending so much that they are showing "a reduced desire to even search for new products, much less purchase them," according to Majestic Research. IAC, whose Ask.com search engine's ad sales are handled by Google, noted last week that the search trends "have not been good over the last 30 to 60 days ... particularly on commercial-oriented queries."

In addition, those consumers still in buying mode are browsing around for bargains more often, thereby reducing the returns on individual clicks. And that is lowering the price marketers are willing to pay for keywords, a point also noted by IAC.

Google's Consumers Are Checking Out - WSJ.com

Technology Review: The Coming Wireless Revolution

Interesting times – see the full article for more details

If you believe some radio researchers and engineers, within the next couple of years, high-bandwidth, far-reaching wireless Internet signals will soon blanket the nation. Thanks to a decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week, megahertz frequency bands that were previously allocated to television broadcasters will be opened to other device manufacturers. The frequency liberation means that future wireless gadgets will be able to blast tens of megabits per second of data over hundreds of kilometers. They will cover previously unreachable parts of the country with Internet signals, enable faster Web browsing on mobile devices, and even make in-car Internet and car-to-car wireless communication more realistic.

Technology Review: The Coming Wireless Revolution

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Web-based Office to work on Macs, iPhone | Beyond Binary - A blog by Ina Fried - CNET News

Check the full article and related Microsoft quasi-FAQ for more details

A Microsoft blog reiterated this week that the Web-based version of Office won't be tied to either Windows or Internet Explorer.

In a blog posting on its Channel 10 site, a Microsoft blogger noted that, owing to support of Firefox and Safari, the forthcoming Office Web Applications will run on Linux and the iPhone.

The blogger, Microsoft's Sarah Perez, also noted that Microsoft won't be mandating use of Silverlight, its rival to Adobe's Flash.

One minor clarification – Ina Fried notes later in her article that the corporate side of Office Web applications will be tied to SharePoint; the same is true for the non-corporate version, as Office Live Workspace and Office Live Small Business are also SharePoint-based.

Web-based Office to work on Macs, iPhone | Beyond Binary - A blog by Ina Fried - CNET News

Mark Logic CEO Blog: Unlearning the Relational Model

Another timely reality check from Dave Kellogg, who has a deep background in database and content management.

Thanks to a Google Alert I stumbled into this interesting post entitled The Content Imperative: Unlearning the Relational Model in another CEO blog, that of Joel Amoussou of Montreal-based Efasoft.

Check the full post for some excerpts/details.

I’ll share some relations/resources rants in a future post; for now, suffice it to say:

1. I fundamentally disagree with implicit or explicit assertions that the relational model is running out of steam.

2. I think that DBMS + XML (full-fidelity XML information management in DBMSs) is going to be very successful, and deeply disruptive for business-as-usual in content/document/image/records management domains.

3. I also believe Mark Logic has a great product; these things are not mutually exclusive – despite the occasional posts/etc. from XML information management types suggesting otherwise…

Mark Logic CEO Blog: Unlearning the Relational Model

BBC NEWS | Technology | Spam plummets as gang leaves net

The good news:

Two US internet service providers have pulled the plug on the firm McColo following an investigation by the Washington Post newspaper.

Anti-spam firm Ironport has seen junk mail levels drop by 70% since McColo was taken offline on 11 November.

On the other hand…

But, it warned, it will be a temporary respite from the menace of spam.

"It is an unprecedented drop but will be a temporary outage as the networks move from North America to places where there is less scrutiny," said Jason Steer, a spokesman for Ironport.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Spam plummets as gang leaves net

Microsoft | Microsoft updates Windows Live to be starting point for "what's new" | Seattle Times Newspaper

It’ll be interesting to see if Google (or Yahoo!) follows Microsoft’s lead in this context

Now, a "what's new" feed on a personalized Windows Live home page (and within other Live services) will update you when someone in your self-selected network has posted a new photo, added a comment or written a blog entry on any Web service partnered with Microsoft.

From there, you can go directly to that service to fully experience, for example, viewing photos in Flickr, Yahoo's photo-sharing site.

Microsoft has signed up 50 partners, including major Web properties such as Amazon.com, Twitter and Wordpress.

[…]

Microsoft has changed other elements of the Live suite, including expanding the free storage on its SkyDrive service to 25 gigabytes and adding a "people tagging" feature to its Live Photos service.

Microsoft | Microsoft updates Windows Live to be starting point for "what's new" | Seattle Times Newspaper

Business & Technology | Google scales back office plan | Seattle Times Newspaper

Its office -- not Office -- plan…

Google is cutting back on its plans to expand into a new campus in Kirkland, opting to sublease a third of its gleaming new complex overlooking Lake Washington.

The company still hasn't moved into the 7.2-acre spread on Sixth Street, which was largely finished last summer.

Business & Technology | Google scales back office plan | Seattle Times Newspaper

Health Professionals Fear Web Sites That Support Theories on Mind Control - NYTimes.com

A scary reality check – see the full article for more details

Although many Internet groups that offer peer support are considered helpful to the mentally ill, some experts say Web sites that amplify reports of mind control and group stalking represent a dark side of social networking. They may reinforce the troubled thinking of the mentally ill and impede treatment.

Dr. Ralph Hoffman, a psychiatry professor at Yale who studies delusions, said a growing number of his research subjects have told him of visiting mind-control sites, and finding in them confirmation of their own experiences.

“The views of these belief systems are like a shark that has to be constantly fed,” Dr. Hoffman said. “If you don’t feed the delusion, sooner or later it will die out or diminish on its own accord. The key thing is that it needs to be repetitively reinforced.”

Health Professionals Fear Web Sites That Support Theories on Mind Control - NYTimes.com

Microsoft Introduces Updated Windows Live Services: Leading Web companies work with Microsoft to simplify life online with e-mail, messaging, photo and file sharing, and more.

See the full press release for more details; there’s also a new Windows Live Press Kit.

Microsoft Corp. today announced the next generation of Windows Live, an integrated set of online services that make it easier and more fun for consumers to communicate and share with the people they care about most. The new generation of Windows Live includes updated experiences for photo sharing, e-mail, instant messaging, as well as integration with multiple third-party sites. The release also includes Windows Live Essentials, free downloadable software that enhances consumers’ Windows experience by helping them simplify and enjoy digital content scattered across their PC, phone and on Web sites. For more information about windows live go to http://www.windowslive.com.

p.s. I’m guessing somebody at Google learned about the Windows Live release date a couple weeks ago, and that the recent Gmail + video media blitz timing was not an accident…

Microsoft Introduces Updated Windows Live Services: Leading Web companies work with Microsoft to simplify life online with e-mail, messaging, photo and file sharing, and more.

Microsoft to Revamp Online Offerings - WSJ.com

I saw a preview of the new Windows Live services at a Windows 7 reviewers workshop a couple weeks ago; it’s a very compelling suite of tools and services

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., will in the coming weeks revamp Windows Live, an online hub for its Hotmail, Messenger instant messaging, photo sharing and other communications services. Among the changes are new features that closely resemble features on Facebook, the popular social-networking site, that make it easier for users to keep tabs on the activities of friends on the Internet.

In another big change, Microsoft will make it easier than it has in the past for users to maintain a single list of online friends, from which they can address emails, send instant messages and view activity updates through the new Facebook-like "feed" feature that shows, for example, new photos that friends have posted online and short messages they've broadcast through Twitter.

Microsoft to Revamp Online Offerings - WSJ.com