Today's dispatch comes from Bratislava, Slovakia.
I would have written sooner, but apparently IBM Germany didn't have much of a sense of humor about my being a Mac and not a PC, as I was not able to get connected in Stuttgart for the better part of two days.
Being a digital guy, it was both humbling and frustrating, and after the first day I started to experience "blogstipation."
If you remember from my last post on Monday, I joked about wondering where to put my money in light of this week's financial tidings.
Now, I'm just curious to know whether or not I have any money left.
Of course, not having been able to get online for the better part of two days, I couldn't get through to my online bank and check on the status of my account.
I must say, it's been very unsettling to be out of the country and offline scrounging for the latest news of which bank is being saved by whom, who's buying whom, etc.
Once again, thank Heavens for my Blackberry Pearl: She continues to be my constant umbilical cord and news connection to the world.
In our opening session here at the Hotel Aston in Bratislava this morning, I joked with our Central European team as well that "I'm a Mac, not a PC."
Only a few moments later did I find my way to the hotel's public wi-fi connection and see Stuart Elliott's column in the New York Times which explained that Microsoft's "enigmatic" ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld will move towards a new theme: "Windows: Life without walls."
Yet one of the first ads to emerge in the new wave of ads features a scuba diver trapped in a shark cage underwater, holding an underwater slate that says "I'm a PC."
Though not fair to scuba divers everywhere, perhaps what Microsoft is really saying is that Vista is running out of air stuck down in that virtual shark cage with nothing to write on but an underwater slate, and that the only thing standing between you and Jaws is a General Protection Fault?
I may be wrong, but I fear that no amount of lipstick on that shark -- or even Texas' own Eva Longoria, who will also appear in the new spots -- can keep this campaign from taking a very deep dive.
But then again, I'm a Mac, and not a PC...even when I can't get online in Western Europe.
Technorati Tags: jerry seinfeld, mac, microsoft, financial meltdown , windows vista
Only Google could pen an online comic strip explaining the "whys" of its new Internet browser, "Google Chrome," and almost get away with it as a serious business communication.
But by panel (page) 15, I was lost in the technical gobbledegook and just wanted to get past all the multi-threading stuff to understand why I should switch from Firefox to Chrome.
I'm sure I'll download it and give a test drive nonetheless, but jeez, folks, a little bit can go a long way.
I like Richie Rich as much as the next guy, but I can also really appreciate a 30 second elevator pitch, too.
Comics were meant to be quickly understood and consumed, not dissected like a PhD in computational complexity theory.
Warning: Marketing by Silicon Valley engineers is a danger to consumers everywhere!
To add insult to injury, the Mac version of Chrome was not released concurrently with the Windows version, so we know whose heart this stake was being hammered towards.
Where's vampire Lestat when you need him? Ah, that's right, he was relegated to the land of comic books way back in 1990-91!
It's soooo 1998, when you think about it, this new front in the browser war.
What's next, Microsoft files an antitrust lawsuit claiming Google's new browser is anti-competitive because it's integrally intertwined with the Google cloud operating system?
Whoa, there, cowboy, them browser chickens are finally coming home to roost, and the Google fox is guarding the Microsoft henhouse!
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Me, I think I'm just gonna go take in the latest Opera.
Technorati Tags: browser wars, chrome, google, microsoft, antitrust
So I was sitting at my desk working away at the Turbo home office here in Austin today when I get this desperate email with the following subject line:
"EMERGENCY I NEED YOUR HELP"
Holy smokes, what's that all about, I think.
I open the email and it says the following:
"I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to Europe for a program called Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Europe which are Dublin, Scotland, and England,I am persently in England."
Okay, it got my attention because I saw it was from a former IBM associate with whom I had just been in contact a week ago in NYC:
It went on:
"I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money,and other valuable things were kept.I will like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently with the sum of $2,400 US Dollars to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.
"I will appreciate whatever you can afford,I'll pay you back as soon as i return,Let me know if you can assist?so that i can send you the details to use when sending the money through WESTERN UNION or MONEY GRAM. Please do send the payment information as for me to get the money in minutes."
Name of Turbo's Friend Here
Her Correct Email Address Here
So, of course, the first thing I did was look to see if the email header information was correct.
Then I started thinking about the "cause" that my friend was traveling on behalf of, and concluded that that certainly could be the case, and good for her, but oh no!
Then I wondered about why she didn't have access to an American Express card or some other credit card that she surely could get a draw from (and better yet, draw it in Euros!)
And then I started more closely examining the grammar of the email.
Min you, this communication was from a consummate marketing communications professional with whom I had worked in the past and who was also now a digital marketing consultant.
Even under the most dire of circumstances, she would not have made the kind of grammatical mistakes represented in the text above.
That's when I concluded she, and I, had been the near victims of a successful phishing attack.
And that's about the time I immediately went over to Twitter to see if she had posted anything there about the frightening circumstance that she supposedly suddenly found herself in in Dublin/Scotland/England.
Very phishy, indeed.
A short while later, a Tweet appeared from her Twitter ID (which I guess I just presumed she was still in control of, particularly after I saw the dispatch):
"Someones hack'd my LIVE PW n' sent an email to my contacts askin 4 $$! Tryin to fix-why doesn't MSN respond fastr to identity theft issues."
Apparently, no response emerged from the Evil Empire, because several hours later (7 according to her) this dispatch appeared:
"Ok, 7 hours and nothing from Microsoft. Don't emails to the topic "unauthorized person using Windows Live ID" get handled as a priority?"
I checked again a few minutes ago, no more Tweets.
Then I sat back and thought about all that had gone down in this chain of events, and realized what a long way we had come from Nigerian email scams.
Though I had hesitated, I certainly did consider sending her money.
There was just enough personal information included that, combined with her story and the fact that it appeared to be from her email address, I certainly had to seriously consider it.
But thank heavens, I was also skeptical enough to give a wait and see attitude. However, but with a few more details I could easily have been had for at least part of that $2,400.
And then I realized that that ancient but classic 1993 New Yorker cartoon was true:
On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
And apparently, nobody has to.
Technorati Tags: microsoft, phishing, internet security, windows live
Mucho congratulations go out to Boston Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester for throwing a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals last night at Fenway Park.
Lester is a 24 year-old Southpaw who has already survived non-Hodgkins lymphoma and won a deciding game in a World Series.
Now he adds his first no hitter to his list of accomplishments.
I almost saw a no hitter once. Almost.
It was to be Nolan Ryan's seventh, one he pitched while with the Texas Rangers. I was in college at the time, and I opted to study for a chemistry test instead of going out to the ballpark in Arlington to see Ryan pitch his seventh and final no hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays.
I nearly cried the next day when I saw the headlines of the Dallas newspaper.
Yeah, that's right, go ahead and make the loser sign and hold it over my head. I'm still crying in my beer over that one.
Speaking of no-hitters, Microsoft and Yahoo have apparently entered round two of their partnership dance, with TechCrunch reporting this time that Microsoft may just be looking to pick up the search part of Yahoo and leaving "the rest of Yahoo and its troubles behind."
As the Microhoo dance lingers on (and on, and on, and....or not), Microsoft will this week be hosting its annual advertising conference, advance 08, where Microsoft will lay out its new advertising strategy.
Its focus in the new strategy, according to a memo from Microsoft Platforms and Services President Kevin Johnson: "Win in display advertising."
Anything's possible, assuming the Microsoft ad group stays as calm as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did with the release of his Hungarian Egg Avoidance Software, Version 1.0, in Budapest yesterday.
Apparently, a protester, who threw three eggs at Ballmer during an appearance at a university in Budapest, demanded that Microsoft given back money "stolen" from the Hungarian people, according to an account from seattlepi.
The Hungarian protester's ERA was not known at press time, but the power thrower is not expected to pitch a no hitter anytime in the foreseeable future.
Technorati Tags: baseball, microsoft, no hitter, nolan ryan, baseball, steve ballmer
Robert Downey, Jr.'s bond insurers must be breathing a sigh of relief this morning.
His box office opening for the Marvel Classic "Iron Man" reached upwards of $100M (sorry, Mr. Downey, but I was only able to contribute a wee $4, having hit the early matinee), setting aside any fears as to whether or not Downey can open a big box office picture (let alone finish out making a film).
But this, of course, is in Hollywood, where anything's possible and yet nobody knows anything.
If you don't know the storyline of the new "Iron Man" film, the net of the plot concerns the efforts of a purveyor of weapons of mass destruction who, after encountering the horrific impact of said weapons firsthand, reforms himself to use such his ingenious technology for good in the world.
In one scene, he tries out his new superpower-like abilities to race to and save an Afghan village halfway around the globe, and he does so in a flash.
Jerry Yang and his Yahooligan friends may be looking for their own Iron Man in very short order, one who apparently didn't come in the form of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer (although Ballmer's resemblance to the evil Jeff Bridges character in "Iron Man" is uncanny!)
If you were stuck in your own cave over the weekend, Microsoft and Yahoo came to an impasse in Microsoft's pending offer to buy Yahoo, before Microsoft withdrew its final offer on Saturday.
Deal or no deal, the Web marketing landscape now lays scorched with the promises of what might have been with the forces of good and evil unleashed in the nuclear combination (and Yahoo attrition) that a Microsoft/Yahoo alliance might have engendered.
Instead, grand questions now loom as to whether or not the un-Microhoo can stumble upon a revitalized raison d'etre and compete with the Goog in the Web marketing universe.
Me, I'm just hoping for a sequel.
Technorati Tags: google, ironman, m and a, microsoft, steve ballmer, yahoo
I've enjoyed reading the recent press coverage about the IBM Research "Macintosh" adoption program.
I recently bought my own Mac, a MacBook Pro, to use as my primary workstation at IBM.
For the record, my doing so had absolutely nothing to do with any ill sentiment to ThinkPads.
I've been using ThinkPads since they came out. I bought my own IBM "pre-ThinkPad" L40SX back in 1991, for Pete's sake. I've traveled with one model of ThinkPad or another from the start.
They're awesome machines, and my blood runneth blue.
No, to be perfectly honest, I just hate Windows.
To paraphrase the movie "Network," I was fed up and I wasn't going to take it anymore.
I had bought a Macbook a couple of years ago for my own personal use, and you may remember me glowing about my nano on this blog when I first got it in 2005.
Beyond that, I was no Machead.
Of course, IBM hadn't exactly made a commitment to Mac applications, and without Lotus Notes and Sametime on Mac OS X, the "switch" couldn't happen for me, not from a work perspective.
But finally, this year a seemingly worthy Notes and Sametime client appeared for the Mac, and that made the transition feasible.
And I haven't looked back.
The only product I do have a problem with on the Macbook Pro is PowerPoint. How ironic.
My own personal Microsoft curse continueth.
Beyond that, it's been a pretty smooth transition, and life is sweet.
I don't wait on the Microsoft hour glass anymore, and I'm not constantly rebooting. What a change!
I do see the Apple pinwheel from time to time -- usually when PowerPoint crashes -- again, the irony is not lost on me.
Everything else with the Mac seems to work like clockwork, and with the horsepower (and additional RAM), it's the first time in my life I feel like my computing productivity lives up to my nickname (Turbo).
In short, I don't wait on the computer. It does what I need it to do, and I can focus on my productivity instead of my operating system.
I don't know whether the IBM Research pilot was any great conspiracy to move towards Macs or not, and I honestly don't care.
How do I feel now a month in with the MacBook Pro?
Liberated. Free. Productive.
In fact, upon retrospect, I wonder what the heck took me so long.
I have now become the Turbo I always envisioned myself I had the potential to be.
And I, and IBM, are much better off for my having made the switch.
Technorati Tags: apple, mac os x, microsoft, productivity, windows
Life was not all well in the universe this weekend, especially with my brackets, and especially if you were a UNC or UCLA fan.
So my Facebook bracket score halts at a stunted 93 -- it was fun while it lasted (and when the CBS brackets Facebook app actually worked).
I'm not even going to try and call tonight's game, but will be glued to the telly to see how it turns out
It was also a rough weekend for bloggers. The New York Times wrote that many bloggers are blogging 'til they drop and that home isn't where the heart is, it's a digital-era sweatshop!
Quote: "A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment."
Demands?? By whom?? An algorithm on some server somewhere?
My advice to bloggers obsessed with their trackbacks and page rank: Get a life. Get a hobby. Go outside, smell the flowers, hit a few golf balls, maybe even get some exercise.
Whatever you do, every once in a while, step away from the computer.
Maybe Mike Arrington's Comcast Internet connection going out for 36 hours this weekend was his own message from the blogging gods that it may be time to delegate (and sleep) more.
Not without some irony, however, it was a sharp Comcast exec in Philly who was monitoring the Twitter stream who keyed in on Arrington's umbilical Internet outage and who had a Comcast operations team on the case pronto to once again enable Arrington's blogging habit.
One presumes the Comcast service team was local, but if from Philly, I hope they brought along a cheesesteak from Pat's.
And speaking of Internet outages, another letter was sent by the Yahoo! Board of Directors to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this weekend.
Larry Dignan's "Between the Lines" post headline says it this way: "Thanks for the letter Steve; Now give us more money or get lost."
How long will this game of chicken endure? Only time, and a few hundred delivered pizzas to the respective Yahoo! and Microsoft boardrooms, will tell.
Which is nothing but good news for Chris Clark, who sold the "pizza.com" domain name at auction recently for a whopping $2.6M U.S.
And how much did Clark buy the domain name for some 14 years ago? $20
Them's a whole lot of anchovies.
Technorati Tags: blogaholics, cheesesteaks, microsoft, pizza, twitter, yahoo
As I prepare to enter the SXSW digital whirlwind here in Austin for the next several days, Mike Arrington is posting that crowdsourcing news site Digg has engaged the services of investment bank Allen & Co. and preparing for a sale.
I suppose it was inevitable that Digg would eventually get Dugged, and Arrington reports the suitors include both Google and Microsoft, along with two "media/news" companies.
The rumored price range: $200-225M, which could buy Kevin Rose all the beers he'll ever need.
Meanwhile, just south of here and on the day we Texans celebrate the great defense of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, Google encountered some defenses of its own.
According to a story in the LA Times, the Pentagon banned Google's digital mapping vehicles yesterday from all military installations after detailed photographs of San Antone's Fort Sam Houston appeared on Google Maps.
If you haven't used Google Maps, it's Street View feature lets users zoom in on a 360-degree, ground level view of terrain, and it, along with Google Map's satellite imagery, has raised concerns among security and privacy advocates for giving away too much valuable and sensitive information on terror target rich locations.
In this instance, the driver mistakenly accessed the base -- which it is Google's strict policy of not doing -- which begs the question, was said driver using the most up-to-date version of Google Maps???
Technorati Tags: crowdsourcing, digg, google, microsoft, m&a
Well I'm certainly glad IBM and the National Football League partnered recently to help the global media get access to news and video highlights from NFL football games, particularly last evening's SuperBowl XLII (42).
I'm as big a football fan as the next guy, but let's face it, in recent years the SuperBowl has become an excuse to get together and criticize and banter about the TV commercials.
(Which I did via Twitter last night, which held up against the offense rush of geeks around the globe all throughout the game. Twitter server infrastructure, first down!)
But no, not last night. Especially not in the fourth quarter.
My heart goes out to all my friends who are New England Patriots fans (and I have many of them). The perfect season was not to be.
And my sincere congratulations go out to Eli Manning and his cohorts, particularly that unbelievable helmet catch by David Tyree.
ESPN's Greg Garber's calling it a play for the ages. I'm thinking it might have to serve as the mold for some sort of new NFL trophy -- the Lombardi equivalent of crazy, major game-changing plays.
But enough gridiron reports. When I wrote the headline for this post, I wasn't referring to football.
Great matchup and game though it was, I'm not sure SuperBowl XLII had anything on the Google v. Microsoft battle that started brewing over the weekend when David Drummond, Google senior VP of corporate development and chief legal officer, filed this blog post on the "Official Google blog."
In it, Drummond poses the following questions:
"Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet?...Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services?"
Hey, no point in waiting for the ink from Ballmer's letter to Jerry Yang and the Yahoo! board to dry before raising the battle flag, right?
Mark Cuban has an interesting perspective on the sit-shee-a-shun, suggesting that a combined MicroHoo could force the market to look much closer at Google's business once there's no Yahoo for Google to "outperform" anymore.
May be, Mark, but even with Google's stock down over the last couple of weeks, most of those earnings announcements in, oh, say, the last 12-14 quarters, seem to have withstood Wall Street scrutiny.
But then again, I guess even Mountain View isn't immune from the gathering fears of a consumer-led recession.
Cuban's advice to Yang and the Gang: Sell!
P.S. BTW, on the SuperBowl ad front, I liked a number of the spots, including the FedEx carrier pigeons, the Cars.com "Stone Circle" and "Witch Doctor," and Bud Light's "Breathing Fire."
But my personal favorite had to be the eTrade Baby Trader. What to do with all that extra coin, indeed.
Technorati Tags: acquisitions, google, microsoft, nfl, antitrust, superbowl, yahoo
I caught the Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo! news on CNBC earlier this morning, where one analyst had just listened to the conference call and saying that Microsoft had been "long on vision, short on details."
The deal is estimated to be worth $44.6B, a 62% premium over yesterday's closing price of $31 per share.
The Microsoft press release announcing the deal related the following:
"The combination will create a more efficient company with synergies in four areas: scale economics driven by audience critical mass and increased value for advertisers; combined engineering talent to accelerate innovation; operational efficiencies through elimination of redundant cost; and the ability to innovate in emerging user experiences such as video and mobile. Microsoft believes these four areas will generate at least $1 billion in annual synergy for the combined entity."
It also stated that "Today this market is increasingly dominated by one player. Together, Microsoft and Yahoo! can offer a competitive choice while better fulfilling the needs of customers and partners."
I can't imagine which "one player" they could possibly be talking about.
Challenges abound for an integration this size, including those of technology and infrastructure, brands (MSN, Windows Live, Office Live, etc.), human resource (~12K Yahoo employees), systems and applications...the list goes on and on and on.
I've no doubt McCann Erickson and other Microsoft agency partners of both they and Yahoo will be some of the busiest beavers of the deal figuring out the brand and advertising implications of the deal.
Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
But it's on the advertising back-end where things could get most interesting, remembering that Microsoft recently bought adserving network aQuantive for $6B, and Yahoo has struggled with its Panama ad delivery system (and whose bumpy clickstream was said to contribute to former CEO Terry Semel's exit).
Will 1 + 1 = 3 or 1.5?
A SearchIgnite study from this week says that Project Panama is on the decline, reports AdWeek, although a -0.9 4Q market share dip doesn't exactly set off the ad click fire alarm.
Yahoo can only hope that life is better with the butterfly.
Okay, I've crawled out from under my rock and am ready to take my licks.
The City of Brotherly Love, my foot. From God's ears to Tony Romo's passing hand.
Man, my Dallas Cowboys took a Rocky-like Philadelphia beating in Dallas yesterday afternoon. Not much to say, except that there wasn't much there, there, was there?
As to my anti-Cowboys friend Johnny G who rubbed it in to we cowpoke fans' faces, I only have one thing to say: I hope you encounter some "fumbleaya" yourself in that upcoming Cisco cert test.
Make sure you buy that return ticket home on the Nerd Bird, amigo. Somehow I don't think Donavan McNabb will be giving you any handouts, no matter how loud you root for him.
Speaking of rumbles, the New York Times went long yesterday in a story about the coming Google and Microsoft cloud computing wars.
If you have any interest in the future of computing, it's well worth a read.
It's also worth remembering that IBM and Google have partnered to put some rain in that cloud.
You can read more about that forming weather pattern here.
Technorati Tags: google, microsoft, cloud computing
First things first.
The World Series begins tonight in Boston.
Oh, what I would pay to be a fly on the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
The new kids on the block (the Colorado Rockies) visit the tradition-laden Red Sox.
Although, I'm in a bit of a quandary as to who to root for.
Remembering that at heart, I'm a Yankees, Astros, and Rangers fan (in that order).
And remembering that I'm also a big American League booster.
But also remembering that I love to see the game evolve and think it's very exciting that the Rockies are playing their first World Series.
And most importantly, remembering I have good friends in both cities...well, may I just say "May the best team win," and "Go Rocky Sox!"
Nice punt, huh?
Meanwhile, you won't see any punting going on at Google, whose major page rank update on large scale link farms is putting the hurt on those sites heavily dependent on cross linking.
If your page rank is flitting about about now, now you know why.
Meanwhile, rumors abound about the "white-hot Facebook investment sweepstakes" continues with great fervor, with the New York Post reporting today that Google is outpacing Microsoft to take a stake of between 5 and 10 percent of Facebook and that a deal will be announced in the next 24-48 hours.
I've told some of my own troops inside Big Blue in the past that I believed Facebook's pre-IPO worth would be worth around $10B.
Turns out I may have been aiming low, as the Post is suggesting a 10 percent stake could cost Google or Microsoft as much as $1.5B!
Can Microsoft really afford to lose this game of Web 2.0 negotiation hardball?
They already lost DoubleClick to Google at the negotiating table, and their Facebook ad deal will likely come unravelled if Google wins this investment round.
Henry Blodget posts that, on the other hand, if Microsoft does outbid the Goog they will likely overpay and "won't get much for its money," because Facebook will "no doubt extract [other] concessions" like great pricing on ad sales, full control, etc.
On second thought, forget what I said about being a fly on the Green Monster tonight.
There's too good a chance I'll get smacked by a Manny Ramirez line drive, and I'd much rather be a fly overseeing Mark Zuckerberg's negotiating table for the next 24 hours.
Technorati Tags: google, microsoft, negotiations, social networking, web 2.0
How ironic that I would find myself at the Googleplex East, located at 9th Avenue and 15th Street in lower Manhattan, on the very same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on the possible antitrust and privacy implications of Google's pending acquisition of DoubleClick.
How even more ironic that, at the same said location
, that DoubleClick's NYC offices are actually already
in the same building as GooglePlex East, and are currently separated by a mere door -- one that Microsoft and others apparently would prefer to see stay permanently locked.
ArsTechnica's Nate Anderson provides a full rundown here
, explaining that the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies released a lengthy study
with their rationale as to why the Google/DoubleClick merger should be prevented -- namely that Google and DoubleClick "compete in the same space" and that "a merger would create a company with too much control over the market."
Why? Because Google and DoubleClick's three online advertising channels function as substitutes for one another, despite Google's dominance in contextual search advertising and DoubleClick's in network-targeted display advertising. The reasoning being that substitution could lead to higher-priced display advertising which would force said display advertisers to jump ship to search advertising, which Google would also dominate.
Higher ad rates would then, based on that substitution effect, lead to monopoly.
Me, I'll buy Park Place and put up a hotel, a spa, DoubleClick, and the GooglePlex, all
on the same property. Not only is the food at Google free, healthy, and prepared by the former chef for the Grateful Dead, in a combined GoogleClick there would be still be separate floors with separate functions.
I could stop on 10 to get a display ad, 8 to get lunch and a Smoothie, and 4 to buy my contextual search ads, all in one fell swoop. Kind of like going to the mall, minus all the annoying tweens.
As to the alleged substitution effect, as a onetime lead for IBM's interactive advertising, I'm not buying it.
Strategically, my display ads were used for different effect from my contextual search ads. One was used more for brand impact, the other for more contextually relevant, demand generation-oriented advertising.
Were the combined GoogleClick to be intelligent about their integration, the combined company would enable me to leverage the two of them together in a coordinated buy for maximum synergy and effect, and the alleged substitute effect would, in fact, do just that: Create synergy and effect, not
No, I think this is as much about innovation in the courtroom, as opposed to the R&D lab -- the kind of innovation which keeps the right doors closed and the wrong ones open.
More bad news for Vonage, and for me.
GigaOm relates the most recent tidings,
whereby Vonage was found to have infringed upon six Sprint patents, and fined some U.S. $69.5 million in damages. (We may have to shift a few of those Facebook attorneys to the Vonage account.)
No "woo woo, woo woo woo" pour moi this go around.
Time Warner Digital phone service is sounding more alluring all the time, in which case Columbus Circle will then have a virtual monopoly on my digital tether.
Mr. Roadrunner, can I at least get a bundled discount??
So, with all this VOIP stress, I could really use an escape about now.
Hey, how 'bout that "Halo 3" release from Redmond yesterday? That could provided some needed distraction from my Internet telephony woes?
Alas, I'm still a generation behind -- "Halo 3" requires the X-Box 360. (You get much better deals on games if you stay a generation behind, but you're also about 3-4 years behind on the games).
Unfortunately, according to an AP wire report, style is winning out over substance as the limited-edition packaging for the new game is apparently scratching the Halo 3 discs.
Which is worse, having the packaging scratch your brand spankin' new Halo 3 discs, or having Microsoft automagically update
your computer via its Windows Update, without
your express permission?
I guess that really depends on how badly you want to play the Microsoft game.
It never fails.
Every time I catch a flight from Austin to NYC, or NYC back to Austin, some dramatic news is announced...or almost announced.
And I'm not talking about the kerfuffle
around Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University (Remind me never to get introduced anywhere
by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Ouch!)
No, I'm referring to the story
from The Wall Street Journal, and subsequent punditry in other parts of the blogomediasphere, that Microsoft was considering taking a significant stake in Facebook (up to 5%, according to the story).
Doggonit, and I was just getting to liking Facebook, too.
According to the Journal article, there's nothing less than the critical leverage point for the future of advertising online at stake:
"Whoever controls the technology platform for buying and selling online ads could hold tremendous power over the Internet industry for years to come -- much as Microsoft was able to use its Windows operating system to shape the personal computer."
Wow. And I just thought it was a really cool place to conduct surveillance on my online friends and tell everyone "Todd is not an ambassador attending the UN General Assembly while he's in NY this week, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn last night."
Didn't I mention a couple of weeks ago that Facebook would, in so many words, be providing the Internet Attorney's Full Employment Act of 2007 due to all the legal issues surrounding its business?
For example, yesterday's announcement
by the New York Attorney General's office that it was subpoenaing Facebook about how it protects its users, particularly those under-age, after a recent undercover investigation suggested Facebook's advertising and statements to users about the safety of its site are "materially misleading."
And heck, all that before I even knew
the Microsoft /Facebook M&A and anti-trust attorneys wing might have to be bolted on.
Hmm, maybe I should
go to law school, after all.
Pardon my brief and sudden disappearance from the blogosphere, but I was in the NYC area last week, making some rounds and taking some meetings.
As fate would have it, I bumbled through Grand Central station about 70 minutes prior to the steampipe explosion on Lexington Avenue.
Thank heavens for cocktails with a colleague closer to Times Square.
If I was fortunate to miss the flying steam and wilting asbestos, I was also glad to see a longstanding personal belief vindicated: that in our new digital world, privacy would increasingly evolve into a competitive advantage.
First, there was Ask's introduction of "AskEraser,"
which allows users of the Ask search engine to erase their search history.
Prior to that, Google's reduction in retained data (from 2038 to 18 months) and its revised cookie expiration (from 2038 to 2 years...something advocates have rightfully pointed out is somewhat anemic: Are you going to stop using Google for two years so your cookie can expire just to have another one set? But hey, they're trying.)
And then today, MIcrosoft's announcement that it was introducing new policies and technologies to protect the privacy of users of its Live Search services.
Microsoft, along with Ask, have also announced their intent to initiate
an industrywide initiative to establish standard practices for retention of users' search histories.
In spirit, I'm all for such initiatives -- the more dialogue about the sensitivity around and commercial exploitation of users' search histories, the better.
But The Wall Street Journal observes
that the attempt to spearhead such an initiative "could be in part a reflection of their [Ask and Microsofts'] place in the industry, pointing out that both "lag far behind Google and Yahoo in Internet-search market share and thus have far less data about search behaviors than their rivals."
Such a clarion call for more privacy standards, the Journal suggests, "could indirectly limit Google's ability to use its vast stores of information to improve its services."
That may be so, but if, in the process of establishing some industry-wide standards, users' regain some control of their personal search histories, I would suggest all constituencies involved would be better off.
Privacy and search are a ticking time bomb.
It would likely only take the misused or misappropriated use of one high-profile U.S. politican's personal search information to start this whole thing tumbling into a legislative landslide.
Better to get ahead of the search privacy curve and establish some reasonable and mutually-beneficial rules of the road (which strike a balance between business and user) -- no matter the potentially misguided impetus.[Read More
Much of the tech blogosphere seemed either really excited or really bored by Apple's announcement that it was releasing a new beta version of its browser -- Safari 3 -- on both the Mac OS and Windows platforms.
I was probably somewhere in between. Clamoring over a new version of a browser these days seems a little 1999-ish to me.
To me, a browser is kind of like my TV.
I just want it to work, consistently, and without a lot of effort on my part. It's now just a basic tool through which I consume information.
Of course, most days, I don't have to worry about how fast the bits come streaming into my Scientific Atlanta cable box (Macro blocking days being the exception).
Wired's already running speed tests
to verify Apple's claims that Safari "loads pages up to 2 times faster
than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2."
They're reporting the opposite, that Safari is actually slower than IE 7 and Firefox "when accessing Ajax-intensive Web applications." Considering the amount of Ajax and other RIA-centric pages these days, that's no small issue.
I figure I'll probably give Safari a whirl on my Macbook, but these days, I'm mostly a Firefox loyalist.
It's fast, it's lean (although getting more bloated by the day), it gets me the info I need, it doesn't crash a lot, and because of it's openness, I can pick from a wide variety of useful plug-ins.
Heads Up: Steve Rubel's attention is crashing.
But the noted blogger and micropersuasion expert explains in a blog post from yesterday
that the coming crash isn't about money.
No, this one, he tells us, is personal.
Steve writes "We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore's Law."
Time to get out the RSS Draino, I guess. Clean out those clogged feeds and keep those Information Superhighwaytubes churnin' away.
Me, I wasn't paying much attention to begin with, so I figure I'll live.
There was always too much information out there, particularly for an information junkie like myself.
Which is why I've always depended on filters. Whether the editors of The New York Times or my Google email filter, I've continuously surrounded myself with a wall of noise filters to lower the impedence. It works...mostly. Google Cranks Up The Anti-Microsoft Volume
Google, of course, is still trying to do its part to turn up the volume, particularly on Microsoft, both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion.
In April, they filed a 49-page complaint
alleging that the latest version of Microsoft Windows (Vista) impairs the performance of "desktop search" programs. Vista has a desktop search feature?
Hmm, I didn't realize...of course, I also haven't been paying much attention. Anyhow, I'm still using that "good enough" OS called Microsoft XP. If I need to do a desktop search, I use that Google Desktop search feature.
Which is, of course, kind of the point of the complaint. And fighting Microsoft in court worked out so
well for Netscape et al, why not?
Google also introduced its poison PowerPoint pill yesterday, the Gmail PowerPoint viewer.
Me likey so far...I can view the PowerPoint embedded in a Gmail without having to open PowerPoint itself.
Hey, it's just one more day not
at the Office.[Read More
It was certainly unsettling to be flying up to NY yesterday, watching coverage via my JetBlue seat back TV about the patient with a drug resistant strain of TB
called "XDR" being held in "respiratory isolation" at the Center for Disease Control down in Atlanta.
"Gee, I'm stuck on this plane and I'm watching news about a guy who traveled thousands of miles knowingly carrying a virulent strain of TB...Oops, that guy just sneezed. I hope it's just a cold!"
Forget peanuts and a pillow, I'd like to see airplanes carry more fresh air with TB-less travellers.
Though the airlines may be helpless in their ability to stem the porousness for passengers with highly communicable diseases boarding their planes, Google is doing what it can to keep virtual intruders at bay.'Google: Protecting You From Microsoft
Over the long weekend, browser-based security software provider GreenBorder announced it had signed an acquisition deal with Google, according to a story on InfoWorld.
GreenBorder offers a browser-based host intrusion protection tool that has specifically helped secure Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Outlook products for business users.
Hey, it's a dirty job protecting IE and Outlook, but somebody's
gotta do it.
With GreenBorder's Professional Edition, whenever content arrives on user's desktop from an untrusted source, it is hosted in a controlled environment highlighted by a green border surrounding programs like Outlook and IE.
Hmmm...I envision a new kind of alarm system at the airports, one in which the green border automagically appears around the guy carrying the XDR-TB strain.[Read More
It's not often I get to quote the chairman and founder of a company like Microsoft.
At Microsoft's "Strategic Account Summit" earlier this week, Gates telegraphed
that he intends to spend his remaining hourglass full of Microsoft sand at the company focusing on search:When people go to the Internet, they have a task in mind. And it's not just to see a list of links. This is not a, 'Hey, I'm paid to go do treasure hunts.' They want to organize a trip, or learn about a topic, and the idea that we can capture things at that task level, and through the magic of software make that far better. And in particular when it's where you want to buy something, that the people who want to buy something that the people who want to advertise, who want to offer up that maybe they're the place that you want to do business with, I think we can make that far better.
Kum ba yah, my lord, kum ba yah...But ya better hurry up if you want to make the first page of those SERPs.
Meanwhile, there's no flies stickin' on Joost, which TechCrunch reported
overnight received $45M in funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS, and Viacom.
Might there be a common thread here?
Bill Gates searching for his search legacy? CBS and Viacom Chasing Google's YouTube contrails?
Speaking of the dense FOG (fear of Google), once I got past the smoke and mirrors of The Cable Show's trade show floor in Vegas earlier this week, it was clear the world at large was demanding more on demand programming via the cable Intertubes.This
could certainly help the cause: DOCSIS 3.0, a high-speed cable standard that both supports IPv6 and provides for download speeds up to 160Mbps.
Roadrunner, indeed. That's a way big step up from my measly 3Mbps connection today!
Beep! Beep![Read More
What a crazy busy week.
Now, Microsoft and Yahoo are said in discussions to merge...again.
My favorite headline in the blogosphere on this news thus far comes from my compadre to the great white north, Mathew Ingram:Two icebergs, roped together
Ha, and no penguins in sight.
Of course, with all this global warming going on, it's not a good time to be an iceberg.
"They are like icebergs: not only is nine-tenths of them unseen, but they are slow-moving and difficult to steer. Impressive? Yes. Powerful? No doubt about it. But fast, or nimble or imaginative? No. Roping them together would do nothing but compound their problems."
I dunno, I thought Microsoft Bob was pretty cool.
And I loved Clippy the talking paper clip in Microsoft Office (who was laid off when Office XP was released). Clippy was kinda like a pre-Second Life avatar.
Ah, I remember the halcyon days of the commercial Intertubes, back when our own John Patrick awarded Jerry and David "Best of Show" for the new Yahoo! search index at Internet World in San Jose (April 1995).
And now it's come to this?
So, a few short seconds ago, I stumbled on over to Yahoo! Answers
to see if I could get some wisdom there, typing in the following simple query:
"Who is Microsoft?"
The Yahoo! Answer diviner responded with the following response (Coined "Best Answer -- Chosen By Voters"):
"Microsoft is an evil corporation."
Well, at least their search engine is working.
The digital consolidation and convergence could continue soon at an ad server near you, as Microsoft is rumored to be in the market for online ad delivery provider, DoubleClick.
DoubleClick has had a long and interesting history, peaking in 1999 before losing a few hundred million in shareholder value after dipping its toes in the wrong privacy waters (history would suggest they never actually did anything wrong...it was much ado about what they had announced that they might
do that got them into trouble).
If software is, in fact, becoming a service, and Windows Office Live becomes the new ad-supported online software productivity suite, buying DoubleClick seems to be a no-brainer. Somebody's got to serve the ads that appear next to Bob the Paper Clip when he springs up to help you with your Web-based formatting!
DoubleClick's Performics search unit, combined with its global reach and ability to serve and target display ads (with a video ad serving play likely about to start streaming in from the wings) and strong network allows Microsoft to possibly cruise past Google in the online advertising passing lane.
Of course, as Searchblog's John Battelle indicates, "Google can't let this stand," hinting that Google may be building
its own "GoogleClick."
ZDNet's "Between the Lines" blog says the purchase would be intriguing.
Turbo says don't count your clicks before they convert.[Read More