Saturday, July 31, 2010

FT.com / Technology - Google blames China ‘blockage’ on miscalculation

The rest of the latest China/Google (non-) story…

Google said on Thursday that its search and advertising services were being blocked in China for first time since its groundbreaking compromise with the Chinese government earlier this month.

But Google later attributed the blockage to a miscalculation on its part.

“Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it’s possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage,” Google said in a statement. “That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage. It appears now that users in China are accessing our properties normally.”

FT.com / Technology - Google blames China ‘blockage’ on miscalculation

Book Review - Long for This World - The Strange Science of Immortality - By Jonathan Weiner - NYTimes.com

And that cheery analogy is before Social Security benefits get cut

“This is a good time to be a mortal,” Weiner writes, noting that life expectancy in the developed world is about 80 years, and improving. Yet evolution has equipped us with bodies and instincts designed only to get us to a reproductive age and not beyond. “We get old because our ancestors died young,” Weiner writes. “We get old because old age had so little weight in the scales of evolution; because there were never enough Old Ones around to count for much in the scales.” The first half of life is orderly, a miracle of “detailed harmonious unfolding” beginning with the embryo. What comes after our reproductive years is “more like the random crumpling of what had been neatly folded origami, or the erosion of stone. The withering of the roses in the bowl is as drunken and disorderly as their blossoming was regular and precise.”

Book Review - Long for This World - The Strange Science of Immortality - By Jonathan Weiner - NYTimes.com

The Way We Live Now - I Tweet, Therefore I Am - NYTimes.com

Check the full article via the link below

The expansion of our digital universe — Second Life, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter — has shifted not only how we spend our time but also how we construct identity. For her coming book, “Alone Together,” Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T., interviewed more than 400 children and parents about their use of social media and cellphones. Among young people especially she found that the self was increasingly becoming externally manufactured rather than internally developed: a series of profiles to be sculptured and refined in response to public opinion. “On Twitter or Facebook you’re trying to express something real about who you are,” she explained. “But because you’re also creating something for others’ consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments in which you’re supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance.” Referring to “The Lonely Crowd,” the landmark description of the transformation of the American character from inner- to outer-directed, Turkle added, “Twitter is outer-directedness cubed.”

The Way We Live Now - I Tweet, Therefore I Am - NYTimes.com

Heard on the Street: The High Cost of Amazon's Cheap Kindle - WSJ.com

An excerpt from some Kindle analysis

Amazon's price-cutting won't be cheap. The company said last year that its Kindle manufacturing costs were "significantly higher" than an estimate from iSuppli of $185.49. Costs likely have come down since then, and not offering cell-network access reduces costs as well. Still, it is a good bet the company is losing money at $139 a unit. One silver lining from the Apple threat is that the price rises pushed though on e-books should have improved Amazon's margins there.

Price wars can damp investors' appetites for companies. Amazon may be following the only path open to it, but it still risks scaring those who don't trust the company's commitment to the bottom line.

Heard on the Street: The High Cost of Amazon's Cheap Kindle - WSJ.com

The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets - WSJ.com

Some disturbing findings in a recent WSJ research project

• The study found that the nation's 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning. A dozen sites each installed more than a hundred. The nonprofit Wikipedia installed none.

• Tracking technology is getting smarter and more intrusive. Monitoring used to be limited mainly to "cookie" files that record websites people visit. But the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. Some tools surreptitiously re-spawn themselves even after users try to delete them.

• These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market-like exchanges that have sprung up in the past 18 months.

The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets - WSJ.com

BlackBerry maker readies rival for iPad - The Boston Globe

Think different – or perhaps rather like the “smartphone companion” Palm Foleo, minus the keyboard?

The device will have roughly the same dimensions as the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch diagonal screen, said the two people who wouldn’t be identified because the plans haven’t been made public. The device will include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology that will allow people to connect to the Internet through their BlackBerry smartphones, the two people said.

BlackBerry maker readies rival for iPad - The Boston Globe

Friday, July 30, 2010

How Fast Can a Cloud Run? - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Advantage Azure – check the link below for more details

Imad Mouline, the chief technology officer at Compuware’s Internet monitoring division, Gomez, said he designed the cloud tracking system to provide customers with a way of judging the various services on the market.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t we put these guys to the test?’” he said.

Gomez has set up identical servers in data centers around the globe that request the same files from the various cloud computing systems. It then measures the speed it takes to complete the request.

In addition, Gomez performs similar operations from people’s PCs.

All told, it can build a picture of how the cloud services perform on both high-speed corporate networks and slower home connections.

How Fast Can a Cloud Run? - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Information technology in transition: The end of Wintel | The Economist

A timely Wintel market reality check from The Economist – excerpt:

As the Wintel pair splits, computing will start to look different. Instead of being dominated by two monopolists, the market will be fought over by eight or nine more or less vertically integrated giants. Oracle, Cisco and IBM will vie for corporate customers; Apple and Google will scramble for individuals (see table). IT, like the world, is becoming multipolar.

Information technology in transition: The end of Wintel | The Economist

Advertising - Barnes and Noble Plans Big Push for Nook E-Reader - NYTimes.com

As opposed to the bazillion or so Target outlets where the Kindle is sold?

In September, the chain will begin an aggressive promotion of its Nook e-readers by building 1,000-square-foot boutiques in all of its stores, with sample Nooks, demonstration tables, video screens and employees who will give customers advice and operating instructions.

By devoting more floor space to promoting the Nook, Barnes & Noble is playing up what it calls a crucial advantage over Amazon in the e-reader war: its 720 bricks-and-mortar stores, where customers can test out the device before they commit to buying it.

Advertising - Barnes and Noble Plans Big Push for Nook E-Reader - NYTimes.com

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Google: The search party is over - Fortune Tech

An excerpt from an extensive Google reality check 

Mike McCue has had a front-row seat watching the web grow up, and as far as he is concerned, the search box is all about the past. McCue was an early Netscape guy, and he recently launched tablet software company Flipboard, which takes all your Facebook updates, your Twitter feeds, all the news sites you like and subscribe to, and in a very elegant way publishes a constantly updated magazine of text, photos, and video. "There is no need to do a search," McCue says. "We almost view it as a bug if we have the user search for something."

At Google, where every problem is waiting to be solved by some form of search query, that is tantamount to blasphemy. But Flipboard sums up the shift going on within the Internet, one that is arguably the biggest change to the web and the way we use it since Google came on the scene. Your network simply provides you with answers, stories to read, bargains to buy -- and you often don't even need to ask a question.

Google: The search party is over - Fortune Tech

The WikiLeaks Paradox: Is radical transparency compatible with total anonymity? - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

Some important questions

This is the paradox of WikiLeaks' methods. Is radical transparency compatible with total anonymity? If we don't know who the leaker is, why he's leaking, and how he came upon his information, can we really know the full story the document tells? More importantly, how can we know that the information is authentic? Look deeply into WikiLeaks' efforts at radical transparency and you find complete opacity; WikiLeaks wants to shine a light on the world, but only by keeping itself shrouded in secrecy.

The WikiLeaks Paradox: Is radical transparency compatible with total anonymity? - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

A Kindle World blog: Kindle 3 vs Kindle 2 in size + Hands-on report by PC World's Perenson - Photos also

First side-by-side photo I’ve run across


This image at the left shows how much smaller the new Kindle 3G/WiFi and Kindle WiFi-Only are when seen next to the Kindle 2 International model.
I saw this image from Amazon when reading Wilson Rothman's excellent summary for MSNBC of the new Kindle features, putting it all into perspective. 

A Kindle World blog: Kindle 3 vs Kindle 2 in size + Hands-on report by PC World's Perenson - Photos also

Windows Live Messenger Tops This Week’s List of Fastest-Growing Facebook Apps by DAU [Inside Facebook]

Hmm…

Windows Live Messenger leads off this week’s list of fastest-gaining Facebook games by daily active users with a healthy half-million new DAU. The messaging app is doing a great job of supplanting Facebook’s in-house chat functionality for international audiences; some 68 percent of its total monthly active userbase of 3.4 million come back on a daily basis, one of the higher retention rates we’ve seen.

Windows Live Messenger Tops This Week’s List of Fastest-Growing Facebook Apps by DAU

BBC News - Facebook makes move into search with Questions

Another take on Facebook Questions; also see the Facebook blog post on the topic

"The core of search is a question," said Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of the blog Search Engine Land.

"For thousands of years we asked questions of people that we trusted.

"Then around 15 years ago we underwent an incredible revolution with the arrival of search engines."

Mr Sullivan said Questions was a return to this age of more personalised search.

"You can now put questions out there in a way we used to do before everyone was online," he said.

BBC News - Facebook makes move into search with Questions

Monitoring Elderly Parents - NYTimes.com

Interesting times

In the general scheme of life, parents are the ones who keep tabs on the children. But now, a raft of new technology is making it possible for adult children to monitor to a stunningly precise degree the daily movements and habits of their aging parents.

The purpose is to provide enough supervision to make it possible for elderly people to stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted-living facility or nursing home — a goal almost universally embraced as both emotionally and financially desirable. With that in mind, a vast spectrum of companies, from giants like General Electric to start-ups like iReminder of Westfield, N.J., which has developed a system to notify families if loved ones haven’t taken their medicine, are looking for a piece of the market of families with an aging relative.

Monitoring Elderly Parents - NYTimes.com

Have a Question? Ask Facebook. - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

I look forward to asking questions such as “Is Eric Schmidt kidding when he asserts Facebook is not a Google competitor?”

“Facebook Questions helps you tap into the collective knowledge of the more than 500 million people on Facebook,” Blake Ross, a director of product management at Facebook, wrote in a company blog post.

The questions, and the answers, will be visible to  anyone on the Internet, making Facebook Questions look a lot like Twitter. But it will be easier to use because questions and answers will be grouped together. Companies that have Facebook accounts could ask questions, too, using the site as a free focus group. The fact that the feature is completely open is yet another step away from Facebook’s origins as a private social network.

Have a Question? Ask Facebook. - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Technology Review: A Smoother Street View

Check out the link below for more details and a video

Services like Google Street View and Bing Streetside instantly teleport Web surfers to any street corner from Tucson to Tokyo. However, the panoramic photos these services offer provide only a limited perspective. You can't travel smoothly down a street. Instead, you have to jump from one panoramic "bubble" to the next--not the ideal way to identify a specific address or explore a new neighborhood.

Microsoft researchers have come up with a refinement to Bing Streetside called Street Slide. It combines slices from multiple panoramas captured along a stretch of road into one continuous view. This can be viewed from a distance, or "smooth scrolled" sideways (see video).

Technology Review: A Smoother Street View

Amazon.com: Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite - Latest Generation: Kindle Store

A pretty amazing feature list for $139, if you don’t need the wide-area wireless

Kindle is our #1 bestselling item for two years running. It’s also the most-wished-for, most-gifted, and has the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon. Now it's even better.

  • All-New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen – 50% better contrast than any other e-reader
  • Read in Bright Sunlight – No glare
  • New and Improved Fonts – New crisper, darker fonts
  • New Sleek Design – 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6" size reading area
  • 17% Lighter – Only 8.5 ounces, weighs less than a paperback
  • Battery Life of Up to One Month – A single charge lasts up to one month with wireless off
  • Double the Storage – Up to 3,500 Books
  • Built-In Wi-Fi – Shop and download books in less than 60 seconds
  • 20% Faster Page Turns – Seamless reading
  • Enhanced PDF Reader – With dictionary lookup, notes, and highlights
  • New WebKit-Based Browser – Browse the web over Wi-Fi (experimental)

Amazon.com: Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite - Latest Generation: Kindle Store

Kindle to Go 'Mass Market' - WSJ.com

Raising the stakes for Kindle competitors

The new Kindle features a screen with increased gray-scale contrast, a battery that lasts for a month, and a slightly smaller size. It will come in two flavors: one with Wi-Fi and 3G Internet connections selling for $189, the other with Wi-Fi only for $139. The latter will be among the cheapest wireless-equipped e-readers on the market, at least for now.

"We developed this device for serious readers. At these price points, it may be much broader than that," said Mr. Bezos in an interview. "People will buy them for their kids. People won't share Kindles any more."

Kindle to Go 'Mass Market' - WSJ.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amazon unveils new generation of Kindles | Crave - CNET

Kindle evolution – check the link below for more details

Amazon on Wednesday officially unveiled a next-generation Kindle that is what many tech pundits thought it would be: smaller and lighter, with a better screen and some Wi-Fi thrown into the mix.

The new e-reader comes in a couple of flavors, one with both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless for $189, and a Wi-Fi-only version that costs $139, some $10 less than Barnes & Noble's Nook Wi-Fi. The new Kindles come in graphite or white and ship on August 27, with Amazon taking pre-orders for both e-readers now.

On top of the more compact design, some other key additions include more memory--4GB instead of 2GB--and double the battery life (4 weeks instead of 2 weeks with the wireless turned off).

Amazon unveils new generation of Kindles | Crave - CNET

LinkedIn: Now Worth More Than $2 Billion [Mashable]

A sign of the increasingly networked times

A new report suggests that LinkedIn’s value has surpassed the $2 billion mark, based on recent investments from outside investors.

According to Bloomberg, hedge fund Tiger Global Management spent $20 million to acquire approximately a one percent stake in the business social network. The hedge fund specifically paid $21.50 per share.

LinkedIn: Now Worth More Than $2 Billion

The Senate’s Energy Failure | The New York Review of Books

Check the link below for more context-setting and analysis – and focus on constructive change in November, if you are a US voter

Today’s reality is quite different, of course. Since the stimulus, the Republicans have decided to oppose en masse all major legislation, and the Tea Party movement arose to punish deviationists. Health-care reform took nearly a year, and achieving it cost the president many approval-rating points and much political capital. And now, despite a seemingly favorable constellation of external pressures—the BP spill, rising oil prices, wide public concern about the climate–comprehensive energy legislation is dead. A modest bill might yet emerge from negotiations, but a large bill that establishes the principle of putting a price on carbon emissions will not happen. The New York Times‘s David Leonhardt recently reported that, on a NASA list of the hottest years on the planet since records were first kept in 1880, nine of the top ten spots are occupied by years in this young century (the tenth is 1998). But the American government did not and cannot act, and it’s difficult to imagine when it might.

What happened? As the above narrative suggests, with a weak economy and high unemployment rate, members of Congress were nervous about enacting too much “big-spending” legislation that, in the average voter’s mind, was not related directly to the economy. So they were willing to tackle one such bill, but not a second. One can criticize, as one always can, the administration’s political strategy: as with health care, the rhetoric wasn’t persuasive—Obama could never conjure up the language to sweep the right’s disingenuous “questions” about climate science to the side, and he did not seize the post-BP moment as he might have. But the deeper explanation lies with the Senate.

The Senate’s Energy Failure | The New York Review of Books

Developing Critical thinking skills with Bing - Teaching Ideas and Resources - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

A timely resource

A free downloadable resource from the Bing team called ‘Developing Critical Thinking Through Web Research Skills’ describes how these skills relate to search and research activities. This e-book provides an excellent guide on how to develop a curriculum for searching and researching using the internet. With the translation of the critical thinking skills into practical examples. Like in the area of Searching efficiently and effectively – Students have to learn the basics of web processes and architecture, including:

  • Key Internet terms, such as spam, malware, noise, advertorial, pay-per-post, crowd sourcing.
  • How search engines find websites—the basics of crawling and indexing.
  • What “the 10 blue links” are.
  • What sponsored (paid) links are and how they work alongside unpaid links.
  • How search engines (Bing, Yahoo!, and Google) make money from results.
  • How websites market themselves in search engine results.
  • How to parse a link/URL and what domain names mean.
  • How to read a webpage.
  • How to overcome researcher bias by learning to look beyond one’s familiar and comfortable sources and to listen to different voices, perspectives, and opinions

Developing Critical thinking skills with Bing - Teaching Ideas and Resources - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

The Media Equation - The Provocateurs as Journalists in the Sherrod Case - NYTimes.com

Check the link below for an ominous reality check

Where once there was a pretty bright line between journalist and political operative, there is now a kind of a continuum, with politicians becoming media providers in their own right, and pundits, entertainers and journalists often driving political discussions.

There have been times when it seemed that Rush Limbaugh was acting as de facto head of the Republican Party, as the Democrats picked up talking points from Rachel Maddow. And Sarah Palin, through Facebook and Twitter accounts, has become an important source of political wisdom for many Americans.

The Media Equation - The Provocateurs as Journalists in the Sherrod Case - NYTimes.com

An Amazon-Facebook Alliance to Make Shopping More Social - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

See the link below for more details, including data sharing (which Amazon won’t be doing)

Amazon’s new feature is the company’s small first step toward tapping into the world of social shopping.

When shoppers connect their Amazon and Facebook accounts, they see their Facebook profile photo on Amazon’s site. They also see which of their Facebook friends have upcoming birthdays, and receive gift suggestions based on the music, books and movies those friends have said they like on Facebook and on their Amazon wish lists. At the same time, they see recommendations on what to buy for themselves, based on what their friends like.

An Amazon-Facebook Alliance to Make Shopping More Social - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Adobe To Launch Tender Offer To Buy Day Software For About $240 Mln - WSJ.com

A curious time for Adobe to finally get directly into the Web content management market

Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) said Wednesday that it has signed a definitive agreement to launch a public tender offer to acquire all of Day Software Holding AG's (DAYN.EB) shares for about $240 million in a move that will help expand its portfolio of Web content management offerings.

[…]

"This acquisition represents a significant market opportunity for Adobe to help organizations transform themselves by enabling them to create, manage, distribute and monetize content while optimizing the web experience for their customers," the company said in a statement.

Adobe To Launch Tender Offer To Buy Day Software For About $240 Mln - WSJ.com

Google Develops a Facebook Rival - WSJ.com

The article content doesn’t really support the title, but it’s an interesting social gaming snapshot

Google's push into social games represents the latest attempt by the Web-search leader to capture users and advertising dollars that are increasingly flowing to social networking, an area dominated by Facebook, Twitter Inc. and others.

For social-game developers, a successful Google offering would mean they wouldn't be so heavily dependent on Facebook, where the vast majority of users access the games. Consumers' appetite for social games is booming— Zynga's "Farmville" game has more than 60 million active monthly users—and that is attracting bigger players looking to tap new sources of growth. On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. acquired Playdom for $563.2 million plus up to $200 million more if performance targets are reached. And retailer GameStop Corp. agreed to buy online game distributor Kongregate Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

Google Develops a Facebook Rival - WSJ.com

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Microsoft Hohm Joins Forces With Blue Line Innovations to Help Consumers Track Energy Use Down to the Minute and the Dollar

Check the link below for more details

“Our goal with Microsoft Hohm is to give consumers information that can help them make smarter decisions to control and manage their energy use. We see this collaboration with Blue Line as a first step toward achieving that goal,” Batterberry says.

Microsoft’s collaboration with Blue Line is the first available device partnership for Microsoft Hohm, and Batterberry sees it as just the beginning. The goal of Microsoft Hohm is to connect to smart plugs, thermostats, HVAC systems, electric vehicles and other devices so that consumers have as much information as possible to help them understand and reduce their energy consumption.

Microsoft Hohm Joins Forces With Blue Line Innovations to Help Consumers Track Energy Use Down to the Minute and the Dollar: Real-time power data monitor uses cloud to provide online, personalized energy- and money-saving recommendations via your Hohm profile.

Kindle 3 arriving? Kindle 2 is missing « Kindle Review – Kindle 3 Review, iPad Review

Hmm…  See the link below for some speculation

There’s a very interesting thread about a potential Kindle 3 release going on in the official Amazon Kindle forum. It stems from the strange disappearance of the $189 Kindle 2 - it’s out of stock and there isn’t even an available by date.

Kindle 3 – Could it really be arriving?

Kindle 3 arriving? Kindle 2 is missing « Kindle Review – Kindle 3 Review, iPad Review

Notes SharePoint Blog: Cool stuff in SharePoint 2010 that Notes customers will love: Declarative Workflow

Some SharePoint workflow insights from Steve Walch; see the link below for more details and screen shots

Notes workflows are almost always implemented as code attached to various buttons, form events, and agents.  By contrast, the Microsoft platform encourages you to use declarative workflows where you express your workflow as a set of rules that can be entered, modified, and (best of all) understood by a non-programmer.  You can write code if you need to, but this code is usually confined to “activities”, the units of action that you wire together in your declarative workflow.

[…]

The takeaway here is twofold.  First you can replace most of your Notes workflows without writing code.  Save your expensive developers for the hard stuff.  Second, do not attempt to translate all the code that your Notes developers wrote into code on the Microsoft platform.  Instead, devote your energies toward understanding what your old workflows did and make sure you have a deep understanding of how to accomplish these same things in a declarative workflow world.

Notes SharePoint Blog

DMCA Jailbreak Decision: Less Than Meets the Eye in « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

A Copyright Office/Apple reality check

The exemption is welcome, but probably will make little practical difference to much of anyone. Although Apple strongly opposed the exemption, the company had never taken any action against jailbreakers, including the iPhone Dev-Team that has done most of the work. So the Copyright Office has said that Apple cannot do what it was not doing anyway.

More significantly, the exemption does not stop Apple (or other phone makers or carriers) from trying to protecting their products. Apple, for example, has forced the Dev-Team to write new code with each iOS release while some Motorola phones, including the Verizon Droid X, include an eFuse chip that can deactivate the phone if unauthorized system software is installed. These moves are unaffected.

DMCA Jailbreak Decision: Less Than Meets the Eye in « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

Oracle's Ellison: Pay King - WSJ.com

Some big data

Larry Ellison, founder and chief executive of software maker Oracle Corp., topped the list of best-paid executives of public companies during the past decade, receiving $1.84 billion in compensation, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of CEO pay.

[…]

The Journal analysis includes salaries, bonuses, perks and realized gains on both restricted stock and stock options; it excludes new grants of restricted stock and stock options. The analysis didn't track whether executives sold shares they acquired after they exercised stock options or after previously restricted stock vested.

Oracle's Ellison: Pay King - WSJ.com

WikiLeaks emerges as superpower in antisecrecy fight - The Boston Globe

The controversy continues; also see WikiLeaks documents explosive, but no Pentagon Papers -- yet 

He [WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange] acknowledged that some will judge harshly the website’s airing of classified documents, but he insisted that WikiLeaks was not breaking the law or putting troops at risk. For the first time, WikiLeaks decided unilaterally to delay the release of some documents because of the possibility that putting them out immediately could cause harm, he said.

“We believe that the way to justice is transparency, and we are clear that the end goal is to expose injustices in the world and try to rectify them,’’ Assange said.

WikiLeaks emerges as superpower in antisecrecy fight - The Boston Globe

Monday, July 26, 2010

Exemption Will Allow ‘Jailbreaking’ of iPhones - NYTimes.com

Think different…

The Library of Congress, which has the power to define exceptions to an important copyright law, said on Monday that it was legal to bypass a phone’s controls on what software it will run to get “lawfully obtained” programs to work.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group, had asked for that exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow the so-called jailbreaking of iPhones and other devices.

Exemption Will Allow ‘Jailbreaking’ of iPhones - NYTimes.com

EU Launches Probe Against IBM - WSJ.com

A curious contrast to IBM’s public posturing about “open”

Reanimating long-dormant scrutiny of International Business Machines Corp., European Union antitrust authorities said Monday they have opened formal investigations into Big Blue's conduct in the market for powerful mainframe computers.

One of the EU's probes was spurred by complaints from two small technology companies that IBM improperly blocks customers from using the mainframe's operating system without IBM's own pricey hardware. The other probe is examining whether IBM is squelching third-party providers of spare mainframe parts

EU Launches Probe Against IBM - WSJ.com

Project Gutenberg turns its attention to cell phone reading | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

Check the post link below for more details

A MobileRead forumgoer reports that the latest Project Gutenberg newsletter contains an announcement of a new Project Gutenberg mobile website, m.gutenberg.org. The site is to be optimized not just for iPhones, but for any mobile phone including browsing-enabled dumbphones. Writes Gutenberg:

There are 4.5 billion such devices in the world, versus only 1.15 billion computers, and more and more readers, in spite of what the pundits say, are surfing, reading, and everything else on such mobile devices.

Project Gutenberg turns its attention to cell phone reading | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

Google Watch - Google M&A - Google Must Buy Zynga to Gain Leverage Vs. Facebook

Strange days indeed

Zynga is a phenomenal success, banking some $520 million in venture capital funding, $100 million of it coming from Google. Zynga is valued at $4.5 billion!

Jive Software, who most would argue is a solid provider of social collaboration software for enterprises, just banked $30 million and that's considered a big success in the current economy.

For Zynga to raise over half a billion dollars is astounding, especially for a company that offers free games by makes bank from "virtual goods," in which serious players buy items to advance in their social games.

[…]

Which leads us to this: If social games are the root of financial success for Facebook, wouldn't it make sense for Google to get in on that action if it's going to slow Facebook's speedy roll to power on the Web?

Google Watch - Google M&A - Google Must Buy Zynga to Gain Leverage Vs. Facebook

Misleading Stories About Race Raise Questions - NYTimes.com

An excerpt from a scary sign of the times

But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news.

Jane Hall, a communication professor at American University and a former contributor to Fox News, said partisan media outlets “look for something that will get an audience and that will whip up people in some kind of frenzy, warranted or not.”

Ms. Hall said what Ms. Sherrod had endured was “classic propaganda.”

Misleading Stories About Race Raise Questions - NYTimes.com

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Will Zynga Become the Google of Games? - NYTimes.com

Strange days indeed

A pink tractor, a FarmVille favorite, costs about $3.50, and fuel to power it is 60 cents. A Breton horse can be had for $4.40, and four chickens for $5.60. The sums are small, but add up quickly when multiplied by millions of users: Zynga says it has been profitable since shortly after its founding.

The company has ballooned to nearly 1,000 employees, up from 375 a year ago, and now has some 400 job openings. And investors, including Google and the Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, have put about $520 million into the company. Though some of the money was used to buy out early investors and employees, it’s still a huge sum in Silicon Valley.

Will Zynga Become the Google of Games? - NYTimes.com

The most frightening thing about our unfathomably complex intelligence bureaucracy. - By Fred Kaplan - Slate Magazine

Excerpt from a summary of a stark Washington Post series

The point, or one of the main points anyway, is that this Top Secret world has expanded so quickly, with so little control, that nobody knows its costs and boundaries; nobody can keep up with all the information going in and coming out. That's the irony: The expansion took place primarily to improve the intelligence networks, to make it easier for all the various intelligence agencies to integrate their efforts, and thus to "connect the dots," so that patterns can be discerned in random data and terrorist plots can be detected and stopped in time.

However, the result has proved so crushingly complex that, in many ways, the problem has intensified. Or, as retired Lt. Gen. John R. Vines—who was recently assigned to track the most secretive intelligence programs in the Defense Department alone—told the Post reporters, no entity anywhere has "the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities." As a result, he said, "we can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe."

The most frightening thing about our unfathomably complex intelligence bureaucracy. - By Fred Kaplan - Slate Magazine

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oracle Disputes Fortune Article, Denies It Has Acquisition Budget - WSJ.com

Hmm – there’s a data integrity error somewhere in this picture, relative to the Fortune assertions 

Oracle Corp.'s (ORCL) denied that it has a five-year acquisition budget, and is unlikely to spend anywhere near $70 billion in the next five years on takeovers as it disputed an article in Fortune Magazine quoting Oracle President Charles Phillips.

The business software company said in a statement Friday, "We don't even have a one-year acquisition budget." However Oracle said that it would continue to acquire more companies that further its strategic goals and address customer needs if market conditions warrant.

The magazine's website on Thursday quoted Phillips as making the remarks during the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.

Oracle Disputes Fortune Article, Denies It Has Acquisition Budget - WSJ.com

The Varieties of Religious Experience: How Apple Stays Divine - Science and Tech - The Atlantic

Think different – via Slate 

There are scholars who study Apple's consumers as religious devotees. Consumer behavior specialists Russell Belk of York University and Gulnur Tumbat of San Francisco State, even put together a framework for assessing Apple's mystical mythology. The company was built on four key myths, they argued.
Here are the four narratives, as summarized by media csholar Texas A&M's Heidi Campbell, who distilled their work for her May paper "How the iPhone became divine":

  1. a creation myth highlighting the counter-cultural origin and emergence of the Apple Mac as a transformative moment;
  2. a hero myth presenting the Mac and its founder Jobs as saving its users from the corporate domination of the PC world;
  3. a satanic myth that presents Bill Gates as the enemy of Mac loyalists;
  4. and, finally, a resurrection myth of Jobs returning to save the failing company...

The Varieties of Religious Experience: How Apple Stays Divine - Science and Tech - The Atlantic

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Slatest - Slate Magazine: Senate Democrats Shelve Climate Bill

Discouraging, but pragmatic to postpone, given the paralyzing and polarized political scene.  On a related note, see Addicted to Bush, and please encourage everyone you know in the United States to do some objective analysis before voting in November…

Plans for a Senate climate bill designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants are on hold until the fall, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today. Rather than trying to push climate legislation through before the August recess, Reid said, Democrats will instead offer a more limited energy bill containing only popular items like energy-efficiency incentives and measures responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Reid said Democrats would have struggled to pass a more ambitious bill in the time available. "It's easy to count to 60," Reid said. "I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade. My point is this, we know where we are. We know we don't have the votes."

The most important news and commentary to read right now. - The Slatest - Slate Magazine

Social networks and statehood: The future is another country | The Economist

Another timely Facebook/social software reality check; read the full article

To many, that forecast still smacks of cyber-fantasy. But the rise of Facebook at least gives pause for thought. If it were a physical nation, it would now be the third most populous on earth. Mr Zuckerberg is confident there will be a billion users in a few years. Facebook is unprecedented not only in its scale but also in its ability to blur boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. A few years ago, online communities evoked fantasy games played by small, geeky groups. But as technology made possible large virtual arenas like Second Life or World of Warcraft, an online game with millions of players, so the overlap between cyberspace and real human existence began to grow.

From the users’ viewpoint, Facebook can feel a bit like a liberal polity: a space in which people air opinions, rally support and right wrongs. What about the view from the top? Is Facebook a place that needs governing, just as a country does? Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures, a venture-capital firm, has argued that the answer is yes. In the spirit of liberal politics, he thinks the job of Facebook’s managers is to create a space in which citizens and firms feel comfortable investing their time and money to create things.

[…]

image

Social networks and statehood: The future is another country | The Economist

Microsoft Contributing Security Solution to Adobe Reader -- Redmond Developer News

Customer-focused coopetition

As Adobe Systems applications face increasing security threats, Microsoft is stepping up to lend a helping hand.

Microsoft is providing some of its sandboxing security technology, developed for Microsoft Office, to its partners, including Adobe, according to David LeBlanc, a Microsoft senior technologist for network security, in a blog post. One of the first such product collaborations involves Adobe Reader, a plug-in utility for reading PDF files.

"Office and Adobe compete on many fronts, but we put all that aside when it comes to helping protect customers from security issues," LeBlanc wrote.

Microsoft Contributing Security Solution to Adobe Reader -- Redmond Developer News

Oracle plans to double acquisition budget - Fortune Tech

Acquisitive times at Oracle, although Oracle didn’t directly acquire MySQL or StorageTek; Sun Microsystems did, before Oracle acquired Sun – in deals that evidently didn’t work out so well, if Oracle acquired Sun for the same amount Sun paid for MySQL + StorageTek (Oracle’s net cost for Sun was closer to $5.6B, according to this NYT article)… (via Kellblog)

Oracle (ORCL) will spend $70 billion in acquisitions over the next five years, Oracle president Charles Phillips said at the Brainstorm Fortune Tech conference in Aspen. "It's early in the game, and there's plenty left to do," he said.

Such a budget -- fueled by increased spending from enterprise customers -- would be a steep increase from what the company spent in the last five years, when it made massive buys like Sun Microsystems for $5 billion; MySQL for $1 billion; and StorageTek for $4 billion.

Oracle plans to double acquisition budget - Fortune Tech

Is Flipboard Legal? [Gizmodo]

Perhaps Flipboard plans to pull a YouTube – to be acquired by a company with ~infinite legal resources, before it can be sued into nonexistence (via Louis Gray)

Social news app Flipboard was yesterday's hot new app, despite—or perhaps because of—technical problems that prevented some features from working. But there might be a bigger snag: Is Flipboard scraping content it doesn't have the rights to?

Flipboard, the new iPad app that renders links from your Twitter feed and favorite sites in a beautiful, magazine-style layout, has a problem: it scrapes websites directly rather than using public RSS feeds, opening it to claims of copyright infringement.

Is Flipboard Legal?

Retail Report | Amazon stock takes beating; profit misses expectations | Seattle Times Newspaper

Amazon is clearly back into strategic investment mode. Tangentially, it'll be interesting to see how things work out for Flipboard, which runs on Amazon's cloud.

Amazon spent $6.3 billion to run its business during the quarter. It added 2,200 employees in three months, bringing its worldwide total to 28,300, and increased its marketing budget to $211 million, compared with $129 million in the second quarter of last year. Among its new marketing costs were TV ads for the Kindle e-reader.

Also, Amazon plans to add 13 order-fulfillment centers this year, said Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak, citing rapid sales growth.

That's "after keeping our fulfillment center infrastructure relatively flat last year," he told analysts in a conference call.

Retail Report Amazon stock takes beating; profit misses expectations Seattle Times Newspaper

Tracking the National Mood Through Twitter - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Interesting times…

The full research project is called “Pulse of the Nation: U.S. Mood Throughout the Day Inferred From Twitter.” It involved analyzing more than 300 million messages that were sent through Twitter’s service between September 2006 and August 2009.

Twitter Mood Map Timeline

Tracking the National Mood Through Twitter - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Share notebooks in OneNote 2010 - OneNote - Microsoft Office

Excerpt from an overview of OneNote shared notebook-based collaboration; see the link below for more details (via the OneNote Facebook page)

Ways to share notebooks in OneNote

In Microsoft OneNote 2010, you can share a notebook so that you can access it on other computers or on the Web, or so that you can work in it together with other people.

Taking notes as a group is a collaborative process. As a collaborative tool, OneNote offers far more than the ability to send static notebook pages via e-mail. Depending on the nature of your projects, you can use OneNote to brainstorm together with other people in meetings, use the notebook pages as a virtual whiteboard, and set up shared notebooks in which everyone can view, add, and edit information.

Unlike other programs that "lock" files for editing by one person at a time, OneNote 2010 lets multiple authors access a shared notebook at the same time. Anytime someone edits to the pages and sections in the shared notebook, OneNote automatically synchronizes the changes so that the notebook is always up-to-date for everyone.

OneNote also maintains a separate offline copy of the notes on each user's computer. That way, shared note-taking participants can continue to edit the notes locally even when they are temporarily disconnected from the network. The next time they connect to the shared notebook, OneNote automatically merges their changes with the changes made by everyone else.

Share notebooks in OneNote 2010 - OneNote - Microsoft Office

Agency Begins E-Book Venture Limited to Amazon - NYTimes.com

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out

“The Wylie Agency’s decision to sell e-books exclusively to Amazon for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this agency as our direct competitor,” Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, said in a news release on Thursday. “Therefore, regrettably, Random House on a worldwide basis will not be entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved.”

Agency Begins E-Book Venture Limited to Amazon - NYTimes.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Facebook investigating removal of Sarah Palin post | The Social - CNET News

A deeply nested sign of the times

This gets complicated because a campaign had been orchestrated among some online Palin dissidents to flag the post as violating Facebook's terms of service, claiming that it counted as racism or hate speech. When the Palin post disappeared, it was unclear whether it had been removed by one of Palin's representatives or whether the grassroots effort had proven successful. Then the note was reposted on Thursday morning, explaining that it had been "unintentionally deleted by mistake or technical glitch."

Facebook, which just announced this week that it has 500 million active users around the world, says that a large number of reports from users that the note may have been in violation of its terms of service could have led to the note's automated removal.

Facebook investigating removal of Sarah Palin post | The Social - CNET News

Andrew Wylie, Literary Agent, Plans E-Books - NYTimes.com

Another interesting e-book twist

In making the announcement Mr. Wylie opened a new front, and a possible negotiating tool, in a debate over e-book rights for what are called backlist titles. Many traditional publishers have said they own the electronic rights to those books, but some authors and their estates have disagreed, arguing that since the books were published before e-books existed, the digital rights were not explicitly sold to the publishers.

“The fact remains that backlist digital rights were not conveyed to publishers, and so there’s an opportunity to do something with those rights,” Mr. Wylie said in an interview.

Andrew Wylie, Literary Agent, Plans E-Books - NYTimes.com

Amazon Media Room: News Release [on Wylie Agency exclusive e-book deal]

See the link below for the full press release

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that The Wylie Agency is publishing 20 books from some of literature's most influential authors through its new Odyssey Editions imprint (www.odysseyeditions.com) and making them available for sale exclusively in the Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestore). This is the first time any of the titles--which include Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead," Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" and Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man"--have been available electronically, and all of the books are exclusive to the Kindle Store for two years. Starting today, customers can download these books for $9.99 from the Kindle Store and read them everywhere--on their Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, iPad and Android devices.

Amazon Media Room: News Release

Another Blow for Publishers – Wylie + Kindle vs Publishers « Kindle Review

Interesting times for traditional publishers (the Kindle:hardcover ratio is 143:100 for the last 3 months of Amazon’s reporting, and 180:100 for the last month)

While the Kindle, the Nook, and the Kindle Store are busy hammering away at Publishers we suddenly get an unexpected source of Publisher angst – Superstar Literary Agent Andrew Wylie.

At a time when Publishers are still reeling from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ announcement that Amazon is selling 143 ebooks for every 100 hardcovers Andrew Wylie has decided that his superstar authors ought to stop donating 75% of their ebook revenue to Publishers (courtesy The Bookseller) -

Agent Andrew Wylie has launched an e-book publishing offshoot Odyssey Editions with titles by Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and John Updike part of the launch list.

The move sees Wylie make good on his threat issued in a Harvard Magazine interview in June to bypass publishers because he is unhappy with publishers terms for digital rights.

Guess which store gets 2 years of exclusive access?

Yup, it’s the Kindle Store

Another Blow for Publishers – Wylie + Kindle vs Publishers « Kindle Review – Kindle 3 Review, iPad Review

BBC News - The ups and downs of social networks

See the link below for some additional stats/charts

Facebook has announced that it now has 500m active users, just six years after it was launched. The site has become the poster child of social networking on the web. While some others have seen growth, MySpace, Flickr and Bebo appear to have declined in the past year, according to these figures from Nielsen. Interesting international variations are seen, both in the amount of time Facebook users spend on the site each month and in the competing networks' popularity in different countries.

image

BBC News - The ups and downs of social networks

Time To Meet Wavii, The Super Stealth, Super Awesome Startup Based In…Seattle? [TechCrunch]

NLP + stream processing = the meme of the week, so far (e.g., with Wavii and the extensive Flipboard/Ellerdale news yesterday)

The team was just a couple of people until just recently. Now they’re up to 5 employees. One team is working on the core NLP problems of accuracy (understanding) and performance (how long it takes to reach understanding). The old Powerset benchmarks were that it took their servers about 1 second to properly index a sentence and turn it into structured, useful information.

When the tech is done, they aren’t going to launch a new search engine like Powerset or Fuil. Instead, we hear, Wavii will automatically creates social content in real-time from news, blogs, and tweets across the web. Utilizing a proprietary piece of core Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, Wavii is able to accurately and performantly understand prose on the web, delivering information in a Facebook-like feed that users can consume like never before.

Time To Meet Wavii, The Super Stealth, Super Awesome Startup Based In…Seattle?

Zuckerberg Calls Movie 'Fiction,' Disputes Signing Contract Giving Up Claim to Facebook - ABC News

See the link below for a content-light video interview

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest one in the world. But on the day that the massive social network achieved its most significant milestone yet – crossing the 500 million member mark – the site's young CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said that it's the users who deserve all the credit.

Zuckerberg Calls Movie 'Fiction,' Disputes Signing Contract Giving Up Claim to Facebook - ABC News

Requiem for a phone: Nexus One done at Google | Relevant Results - CNET News

From the Googleplex reality distortion field

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said Google doesn't plan on making any other Nexus devices, having apparently achieved everything it wanted with the Nexus One, despite announcing plans in January to make a family of devices. It's not exactly clear what Schmidt meant by that statement, unless Google really believes that phones like the Evo, the Droid Incredible, and the other Android phones currently in the market would never have been dreamt up by their makers were it not for the Nexus One project, or that some new era of phone purchasing has sprung up entirely unnoticed by, well, everyone.

Requiem for a phone: Nexus One done at Google | Relevant Results - CNET News

The Web Means the End of Forgetting - NYTimes.com

An excerpt from a very extensive privacy reality check

In a recent book, “Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age,” the cyberscholar Viktor Mayer-Sch├Ânberger cites Stacy Snyder’s case as a reminder of the importance of “societal forgetting.” By “erasing external memories,” he says in the book, “our society accepts that human beings evolve over time, that we have the capacity to learn from past experiences and adjust our behavior.” In traditional societies, where missteps are observed but not necessarily recorded, the limits of human memory ensure that people’s sins are eventually forgotten. By contrast, Mayer-Sch├Ânberger notes, a society in which everything is recorded “will forever tether us to all our past actions, making it impossible, in practice, to escape them.” He concludes that “without some form of forgetting, forgiving becomes a difficult undertaking.”

The Web Means the End of Forgetting - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Facebook Credits: The World's First Global Currency? [ReadWriteWeb]

Excerpt from a timely Facebook reality check

At the same time, the potential implications of a virtual global currency are staggering, if not difficult to pin down precisely. Facebook users have already shown a willingness to shell out for virtual goods in online games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. The software company behind these, Zynga, is expected to make more than $450 million this year, the bulk from virtual purchases.

With a beefed-up Facebook credits program, users both domestic and abroad may soon be purchasing real goods through companies that utilize Facebook Connect. It isn't difficult to imagine going to the Crate & Barrel website and purchasing a wedding gift with Facebook Credits.

Consider what one-click purchasing could do for targeted Facebook ads: Advertisers and social marketers might have unprecedented access to real-time data on spending patterns and international purchases. Mobile carriers stand to benefit, too, as international consumers are increasingly more adept at using smartphones for financial transactions.

Facebook Credits: The World's First Global Currency?

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Windows Phone 7 Strikes an Emotional Chord

More Windows Phone impressions

To date, Windows Phone offers the most compelling interchange of personal and professional needs available anywhere, and it speaks to a future where fewer of us will carry multiple devices for multiple purposes. The Windows Phone People hub seamlessly integrates contacts from, say, your employer's Exchange Server and the Facebook social networking service, which is an almost surreal experience. And the Calendar application lets you mix and match corporate calendars (Exchange, Outlook) with personal calendars (Google, Windows Live). These types of combinations run throughout the device, blurring the line between work and play.

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Windows Phone 7 Strikes an Emotional Chord

First look at “revolutionary” social news iPad app: Flipboard — Scobleizer

Flipboard launches with coverage by Robert Scoble (see the link below for an extensive review and video) and the NYT; also interesting to review Flipboard’s Ellerdale acquisition

What is Flipboard? It turns your Facebook and Twitter account into something that looks like a magazine. It also lets you build a custom magazine, either by choosing from Flipboard’s pre-built curated “boards” or by importing Twitter lists. This is a very powerful and engaging way to read Twitter. You can also turn a single person’s Twitter account, or a single brand’s Twitter account, into a Flipboard. For instance, you can follow Techcrunch on Twitter with it and it will turn Techcrunch into a beautiful magazine-like interface that’s easier to read than any other reader

First look at “revolutionary” social news iPad app: Flipboard — Scobleizer

Social Networking for Cars - Wheels Blog - NYTimes.com

Interesting times

The software behind AJ was an app called the “Auto”matic Blog. It tapped into the available data on the car, including telemetry information, like location, speed, acceleration and braking. It also gleaned information from the windshield wipers, steering input and GPS data and correlated it with live information culled from the Web.

So AJ’s software could combine, say, real-time traffic notices about congestion with its current situation (stop-and-go braking) and weather forecasts (storms ahead) and then send a Twitter entry like, “Stuck in traffic; not looking forward to next 50 miles, either.”

Social Networking for Cars - Wheels Blog - NYTimes.com

Shutdown of Blogging Site Sparks Dispute - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

More Blogetery details

John Morris, general counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that while he did not know the details of the case, the shutdown does “encapsulate the fragility of free speech on the Internet” and its dependence on the behavior of private companies.

And Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, said the “tragedy is that thousands of blogs will be taken offline for no good reason.”

Mr. Yusupov said he had backed up some of the blogging site’s data, but not all. And he said he was trying to negotiate with BurstNet to get the data so he could restart the blogging site with another hosting service. “This has been a big hassle for me,” he said.

Shutdown of Blogging Site Sparks Dispute - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Two Appear to Have Edge in 4-Way IBM Succession Race - WSJ.com

Hmm – so perhaps there has been a change at IBM on the mandatory retirement issue.   The last four IBM CEOs have retired by 60, however (three retired at 60 and one, John Akers, was forced out by the IBM board before he turned 60)

Whoever wins the job, a transition isn't likely to happen anytime soon. Mr. Palmisano is considered secure in his job. There is no mandatory retirement age at IBM, and Mr. Palmisano has shown no signs of winding down his tenure, as he is busy preparing for the company's 100th anniversary next year.

Two Appear to Have Edge in 4-Way IBM Succession Race - WSJ.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BBC News - Thousands of blogs shut down over 'terrorist material'

A scary sign of the times

A web hosting company has said it shut down a blogging platform that was home to over 70,000 bloggers because a "link to terrorist material" and an al-Qaeda "hit list" was posted to the site.

BurstNet said Blogetery.com also posted "bomb-making instructions".

The company said it acted after receiving "a notice of a critical nature from law enforcement officials".

But the move has angered bloggers who use the platform and say they were given no notice of the shutdown.

BBC News - Thousands of blogs shut down over 'terrorist material'

vowe dot net :: IBM Second-Quarter Earnings are out

Volker’s “this chain” link below is a trail through previous IBM Lotus quarterly earnings highlights – a discouraging trajectory for IBM Lotus fans. Also see Ed Brill’s comment on the post, including a reference to a “Project ‘Northstar’,” some sort of vague “… vision and multi-year roadmap for how organizations can create next-generation online experiences,” which must be reassuring to organizations operating in IBM’s parallel universe, i.e., ones that can apparently afford to wait multiple years before delivering next-generation online experiences. I’m still waiting to see beyond-pre-alpha-demo details on “Project ‘Concord’,” which Ed also referenced; IBM has the audacity to assert, with no substantive details to back the assertion, that “Concord” is some sort of future Symphony/OpenOffice.org for the cloud – perhaps intended to eventually become something like the already-available Office Web Apps, assuming the currently-as-vaporous-as-“Concord” Oracle Cloud Office doesn’t materialize first (since Oracle controls much of the OpenOffice.org-related intellectual property, based on its Sun acquisition, just as it does, to IBM’s chagrin, with Java).

Revenues from the WebSphere family of software products ... increased 17 percent year over year. Revenues from Information Management software... increased 7 percent. Revenues from Tivoli software ... increased 18 percent, and revenues from Lotus software ... decreased 6 percent. Revenues from Rational software ... increased 1 percent.

Follow this chain for the last quarters.

vowe dot net :: IBM Second-Quarter Earnings are out

Amazon Says E-Books Now Top Hardcover Sales - NYTimes.com

See the link below for more e-book market dynamics

One reason Kindle book sales have held their own is that owners of iPads and other mobile reading devices buy Kindle books, which they can read on computers, iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and Android phones. But, except for the free uncopyrighted books, Kindle owners must buy or download content via Amazon. “Every time they sell a Kindle, they lock up a customer,” Mr. Shatzkin said.

Some industry analysts say that many people do not consider the iPad to be a reading device the way the Kindle is, and see a need to own both. Amazon’s latest sales figures are “clearly an indication that the iPad is complementary to the Kindle, not a replacement,” said Youssef H. Squali, managing director at Jefferies & Company in charge of Internet and new media research.

Amazon Says E-Books Now Top Hardcover Sales - NYTimes.com

I.B.M. Shuffles Top Management - NYTimes.com

More IBM exec tea leaf reading

Michael E. Daniels, 56, a senior vice president, will be in charge of the entire services business, which had been split until now. Virginia M. Rometty, 52, a senior vice president, will oversee marketing and strategy, as well as sales, which she handles now.

Mr. Daniels and Ms. Rometty, analysts suggest, would be the most likely internal candidates to succeed Mr. Palmisano.

Still, they say, the closeness in age to Mr. Palmisano of the four executives could well mean that he is planning to remain beyond 60, while giving his top lieutenants large roles. Investors have been pleased with the tenure of Mr. Palmisano who, since 2002, has aggressively expanded I.B.M.’s operations abroad, shifted it sharply into higher-margin businesses and increased earnings per share fourfold.

I.B.M. Shuffles Top Management - NYTimes.com

Peter O'Kelly's Reality Check: Blog tweaks [Clustrmaps feedback]

A Clustrmaps comment excerpt follows below; the company also generously upgraded my account to their + account at no charge.  I appreciate the feedback and gesture. 

It is crucial to appreciate that in this case there are no "right" or "wrong" numbers, merely different interpretations and counting methods. Our counts are very accurate, and based on industry-standard Apache log files, which provide all the details necessary to compute the results (with no personally identifiable information!). The idea of a restricted time window (normally defined as a 'session') is common in the web analytics industry, but the definition of that window varies for different purposes, and is arbitrary.
There is a great discussion of the problem, along with a nice illustration, in a Wikipedia article on Web Analytics, particularly the section entitled The Hotel Problem.
As mentioned at the beginning, we also have very different aims, namely to provide
a) a 'visual gestalt' overview
b) a 'badge of pride' that you can show off simply on your site (the thumbnail map), with no further explanation
c) city-level detail (all those dots)
d) very rapid map deployment (large maps are all pre-stored for speed)
e) massive scalability (we can show millions of dots instantly, although we appreciate you may not need such numbers, it is nice to know that the capability is there).

Peter O'Kelly's Reality Check: Blog tweaks

IBM Management Changes Set Up Race for CEO - WSJ.com

Last I checked, IBM has mandatory retirement at age 60 for corporate officers, and that would put both Palmisano and Steve Mills close to retirement. 

In the executive changes, Senior Vice President Michael E. Daniels, who formerly ran half of IBM Global Services, has been promoted to run the entire group. Mr. Loughridge will keep his CFO job and add IBM's Global Financing business and "Enterprise Transformation" responsibilities, which include running IBM's internal technology systems.

Steven A. Mills, who has run IBM's software business for many years, is now also responsible for IBM's Systems and Technology Group, which includes its computer server and chips business. And Virginia M. Rometty, a senior vice president who runs Global Sales and Distribution, is now also in charge of Marketing and Strategy.

IBM Management Changes Set Up Race for CEO - WSJ.com

Monday, July 19, 2010

Amazon Says E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcovers - WSJ.com

Apparently Apple hasn’t yet managed to “stand on their shoulders and go a bit further” than Amazon on e-books, as Steve Jobs smugly proclaimed at the iPad launch event – and it would be fascinating to see the percentage of Kindle books sold on iOS devices today

The company also painted a picture of accelerating growth in its sales of e-books, which can be read on the Kindle and on a host of other devices, including Apple's iPad and iPhone. Amazon said that Kindle e-book sales had overtaken Amazon's hardback book sales.

Over the last month, the Seattle-based Internet retailer sold 180 Kindle e-books for every 100 hardcover books it sold.

Amazon Says E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcovers - WSJ.com

IBM Press room - 2010-07-19 IBM Reports 2010 Second-Quarter Results - United States

It’ll be interesting to see how IBM spins the Lotus part of its latest earnings update below (lots of other instances of “decrease” in the full IBM press release, but only one pertaining to a software group)

Revenues from the WebSphere family of software products, which delivers capabilities that enable clients to integrate and manage business processes across the organization, increased 17 percent year over year. Revenues from Information Management software, which enables clients to integrate, manage and use information to gain business value, increased 7 percent. Revenues from Tivoli software, which helps clients manage technology and business assets by providing visibility, control and automation across the organization, increased 18 percent, and revenues from Lotus software, which connects people and processes for more effective communication and increased productivity through collaboration, messaging and social networking software, decreased 6 percent. Revenues from Rational software, which supports software development for both IT and embedded system solutions, increased 1 percent.

IBM Press room - 2010-07-19 IBM Reports 2010 Second-Quarter Results - United States

Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows" and William Powers's "Hamlet's Blackberry" [The Washington Post]

Final paragraph (also see this NYT review of “Hamlet’s Blackberry”)

There's more than a little comfort to be had from looking back and seeing that people did manage to cope with the new technologies that came their way, whether it was writing or printing or the telegraph of Thoreau's time. For those who feel they really can't live without their little glowing friends, Powers suggests it's possible to be connected to the digital world and to something deeper as well. For his family, that means going offline on weekends. In "The Shallows," Carr insists that McLuhan was right and that the new digital medium really is the message -- that it doesn't just deliver content but, more and more, determines who we are and how we think. Powers, however, makes a stronger case that it's still up to us to decide how best to live in, and sometimes apart from, this medium we have created.

Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows" and William Powers's "Hamlet's Blackberry"

Google Discontinues the Nexus One Android Phone [Mashable]

Officially history

Following disappointing sales, Google had already closed the Nexus One web store two months ago, so this final nail in the coffin was already overdue.

Google announced the end of the line on its blog(blog) on Friday, but there was so little fanfare or interest in the story in the tech scene that the story slipped through the cracks. Though the device was popular with geeks, most American consumers probably just didn’t understand the concept of an unlocked handset, and Google didn’t put much marketing muscle behind the device.

Google Discontinues the Nexus One Android Phone

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Hands-On with Windows Phone 7, Part 1: Introduction

Excerpt from a detailed review

There are people out there--haters, people who are so invested in Apple products, or Google, or whatever--that will try to convince you that Windows Phone is a disaster. That this product should be avoided at all costs. That it is a tired retread of what Apple first shipped in 2007. Those people, to put it simply, are wrong.

Here's the truth. Windows Phone may or may not succeed in the market place. I have no opinion on that, and believe it or not, I have no vested interest in it one way or another. What I do have is an opinion on the value of this system, an opinion about how it compares to today's leading mobile systems from Apple and Google. And I'm here to tell you that Windows Phone isn't just competitive. It's better. It's more innovative than anything from those other companies, and people will be shocked by how good the big picture stuff is on these devices.

From later in the multi-part review

It doesn't take long to realize two things about Windows Phone. First, Microsoft gets it. In a world of me-too smart phone solutions that all take the same route down application silo hell, Microsoft has rethought how important these devices are to our everyday lives and has come up with something that's not just different, but better. Second, you can never go back. I've often said that the true test of any upgrade, software or otherwise, is how it makes you feel when you have to go back to the previous solution.

And going back to the iPhone after Windows Phone? If not impossible then certainly painful.

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Hands-On with Windows Phone 7, Part 1: Introduction

Concern for Those Who Screen the Web for Barbarity - NYTimes.com

Not an attractive career option

Workers at Telecommunications On Demand, who make $8 to $12 an hour, view photos that have been stripped of information about the users who posted them. Rapidly cycling through pages of 300 images each, they are asked to flag material that is obviously pornographic or violent, illegal in a certain country or deemed inappropriate by a specific Web site.

Caleris, an outsourcing company based in West Des Moines, Iowa, says it reviews about 4.5 million images a day. Stacey Springer, its vice president for support operations, says the job is not for everybody and that “people find they can do it, but it is usually a lot harder than they thought.” The company offers counseling as part of its standard benefits package for workers.

Concern for Those Who Screen the Web for Barbarity - NYTimes.com

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Digital Diplomacy - NYTimes.com

A fascinating snapshot at the intersection of government and social networking

On Twitter, Cohen, who is 28, and Ross, who is 38, are among the most followed of anyone working for the U.S. government, coming in third and fourth after Barack Obama and John McCain. This didn’t happen by chance. Their Twitter posts have become an integral part of a new State Department effort to bring diplomacy into the digital age, by using widely available technologies to reach out to citizens, companies and other nonstate actors. Ross and Cohen’s style of engagement — perhaps best described as a cross between social-networking culture and foreign-policy arcana — reflects the hybrid nature of this approach. Two of Cohen’s recent posts were, in order: “Guinea holds first free election since 1958” and “Yes, the season premier [sic] of Entourage is tonight, soooo excited!” This offhand mix of pop and politics has on occasion raised eyebrows and a few hackles (writing about a frappucino during a rare diplomatic mission to Syria; a trip with Ashton Kutcher to Russia in February), yet, together, Ross and Cohen have formed an unlikely and unprecedented team in the State Department. They are the public face of a cause with an important-sounding name: 21st-century statecraft.

Digital Diplomacy - NYTimes.com

As Older Users Join Facebook, Network Grapples With Death - NYTimes.com

Interesting times

Facebook, the world’s biggest social network, knows a lot about its roughly 500 million members. Its software is quick to offer helpful nudges about things like imminent birthdays and friends you have not contacted in a while. But the company has had trouble automating the task of figuring out when one of its users has died.

That can lead to some disturbing or just plain weird moments for Facebook users as the site keeps on shuffling a dead friend through its social algorithms.

Facebook says it has been grappling with how to handle the ghosts in its machine but acknowledges that it has not found a good solution.

As Older Users Join Facebook, Network Grapples With Death - NYTimes.com

Apple’s Claims About Other Phones — There’s a Response for That - Digits - WSJ

This probably wasn’t part of Steve Jobs’ neutralize-antennagate strategy…

The latest is from Research in Motion’s co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille:

“Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation,” they said.

And specifically addressing BlackBerry antenna design, they added: “RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage.

Apple’s Claims About Other Phones — There’s a Response for That - Digits - WSJ

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Google Makes Major Semantic Web Play, Acquires Freebase Operators Metaweb - NYTimes.com

Check the main story link below for more details on Google’s latest attempt to acquire its way closer to competitive parity with Bing

Google already provides some smart search results, including basic math, sports scores and birthdays of public figures, to name a few. For the most part, however, Google merely serves up links to Web pages; knowing more about what is behind those links could allow the search giant to provide better, more contextual results. To get a better idea of how that could happen, have a look at the video below.

Microsoft made a similar purchase when it acquired Powerset two years ago. Since then, Bing has bested Google in terms of providing smart search results, and has been nibbling at its market share for search. In an effort to keep Bing from eating its semantic lunch, Google is taking Metaweb's technology and data under its wing.

Google Makes Major Semantic Web Play, Acquires Freebase Operators Metaweb - NYTimes.com

A Field Trip to an Apple Lab - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

More evidence the press has shifted on Apple

Like students on a field trip, we were escorted across the street by a platoon of Apple public relations staff members to a building adjacent to Apple’s corporate campus in Cupertino, Calif. (The street wrapping around campus is famously named Infinite Loop.) We learned that Apple took antennas very seriously, but it didn’t answer the basic question why the iPhone 4 is not a better cellphone.

Must have been a fun field trip, in any case

credit

A Field Trip to an Apple Lab - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Apple Offers Free Cases to Address iPhone Issue - NYTimes.com

With Jobs acknowledging that the iPhone 4 has more signal problems than the notorious-for-dropping-calls earlier iPhone models, and asserting it’s still a non-issue being blown out of proportion by the (usually Apple-fawning) press, I suspect few people are going to listen to competitive rebuttals to Jobs’ sweeping assertions that Apple’s analysis indicates all leading smartphones suffer from the same challenges.  I predict more lawyers showing up soon at 1 Infinite Loop

Some Apple rivals took issue with the contention that all smartphones suffer from antenna problems. Karen Lachtanski, a spokeswoman for Nokia, said in an e-mail message that antenna performance can be affected by a tight grip, but added: “That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real-life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand.”

Sanjay K. Jha, Motorola’s co-chief executive, said in a statement that his company had avoided putting antennas on the outside of its phones “because consumers don’t like being told how to hold the phone.”

Mr. Jha said it was “disingenuous to suggest that all phones perform equally,” adding that in the company’s tests, Motorola’s new Droid X had performed better than the iPhone 4 when held in the hand.

Apple Offers Free Cases to Address iPhone Issue - NYTimes.com

Patient Money - Losing Weight the Smartphone Way, With a Nutritionist in Your Pocket - NYTimes.com

A timely snapshot of category-leading apps such as LoseIt 

The beauty of mobile apps is that they work in real time. You eat lunch and immediately log in your meal on your phone. The apps rely on databases to record the calorie counts of thousands of foods, whether a single item like an apple or a prepared meal like a sub sandwich, which takes the guesswork out of totaling calories.

Weight-loss experts are hopeful that apps will help turn chronic dieters into healthy eaters. If you’re looking at a menu wondering whether to order pasta primavera or a Caesar salad, an app can tell you on the spot which option has fewer calories.

Over time, this information becomes part of your own internal database and, the thought is, dieters begin to make healthier choices.

Patient Money - Losing Weight the Smartphone Way, With a Nutritionist in Your Pocket - NYTimes.com

Intel Lands Veteran of Palm and Apple for Smartphone Effort - Digits - WSJ

So … HP acquired a fledgling mobile device OS and a rapidly-emptying building?…

Bell spent 16 years at Apple, where he helped work on projects that included the development of the iPhone, Intel notes. In 2007 he joined Palm–which just became part of Hewlett-Packard–where Bell became senior vice president in charge of all product development, including leading the effort to create the Palm PRE and the Palm PIXI. Indeed, Bell and Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein–another high-level Apple exec who helped create the iPod–have figured in past stories discussing tensions between Palm and Apple about poaching each others’ employees.

Intel Lands Veteran of Palm and Apple for Smartphone Effort - Digits - WSJ

Apple’s Jobs makes case for iPhone 4 - The Boston Globe

The latest Apple storyline shifts from “You’re holding it wrong” to “They’re reporting it wrong,” with a supporting theme of “Every other smartphone has the same problem we just denied the iPhone has.”

“We care about every user,’’ he said. “But I think it’s important to understand the scope of this problem, because what the data says leads you to the conclusion that this has been blown so out of proportion, it’s incredible. I know it’s fun to have a story, but it’s less fun when you’re on the other end of it.’’

Apple’s Jobs makes case for iPhone 4 - The Boston Globe