Yahoo! Search introduced some new improvements yesterday, and in a blog post indicated the whole point was to get you from "to do" to "done."
I prefer mine well done, thanks, particularly when it comes to search queries.
That's where the new "Yahoo! Search Assist" allegedly comes in.
Not only does Yahoo! give you your search results, the new Assist tool presents "related concepts that give users a point-and-click query refinement capability that enables them to explore a subject area they may be unfamiliar with."
For grins, I did a quick search on "britney spears." Here's what the Yahoo! Search Assistant offered up for "related concepts":
"britney spears vma performance"
"britney spears news"
"britney spears vma"
"britney spears baby"
"britney spears gimme more"
Yes, "britney spears mtv" did
make the list, but I had to scroll down to get to that particular listing. Most
disappointing. Scrolling down is a lot of hard work, especially when you have an assistant.
But, Yahoo! claims that Search Assist has helped drive "significant improvements in user satisfaction," with one metric seeing a 61% increase in successful task completion when they used Search Assist.
May be...Anyahoo, I'm digging the local search feature. Enter a restaurant and city name, and up pops a listing of the restaurant, complete with a Yahoo! Local map.
Yahoo! when you need sushi in San Franscisco? You might now!
Ouch! Take that, Google Maps, yo!
I had occasion to catch up with some old ibm.com friends (old as in I used to work with them, not as in they're old) over the weekend in NYC, and it was just like old home week at the IBM Web farm.
Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
However, I am confident in relating that looking backwards into the Web past in order to better ascertain its uncertain future can be greatly enhanced by a nice Riesling.
But so can visions that one can hardly explain.
Like Picasso, the Painting Elephant, which appropriately enough was in attendance and on display at the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn over the weekend.
If you've never witnessed a painting elephant, you don't know what you're missing.
And I'm not talking about the house kind of painting, mind you. I'm talking full on Impressionism, trunk and all.
If you're looking for other kinds of painting elephants, witness the lowdown on eBay's Skype, which analyst Henry Blodget explains eBay has finally acknowledged what has been obvious to the rest of the world: the Skype acquisition gamble has failed.
No amount of oil-based paint can cover up the ugliness of that elephant, which includes a $1.4B asset impairment charge that eBay's going to take, and the under-the-estimate earnout that eBay will pay to the Skype team (31 cents on the dollar).
Painting by Web business M&A numbers is apparently never as easy as it seems -- even for a nimble elephant like eBay.
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.
Kudos to the Lotus team, whose new free (keyword: free!) Symphony office productivity software kept our Software Group Web servers cranking close to the redline over the past week.
Symphony has now been downloaded
by over 100,000 registered business and consumer users.
Who said there's not a second act....err, overture...in software? (I'm referring, of course, to the first release of Lotus Symphony, an integrated software application for DOS that Lotus released in July 1984. Ah, the good ol' days of DOS.)
Lotus Symphony is comprised of three core applications, including Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets, and Lotus Symphony Presentations.
And yes, Lotus has heard your cry (and mine) for a Mac OS X version, which the Symphony Buzz page
indicates is being targeted for beta in 1H08.
If you haven't played with the Lotus Symphony yet, you can access the streamlined download here.
Our Almaden Research Center and alphaWorks Web tech incubator have unveiled a new free (keyword: free) and easy-to-use online service for recording and repeating step-by-step processes that Web users do on a regular basis.
Think macros for the Intertubes.
The hypothesis that led to the technology goes something like this: You do the same things over and over again on the Web (visiting certain pages, conducting searches, etc.), why not figure out a way to automate that?
That's where "CoScripter" comes in (Hey, we're IBM. We do good acronyms, not product names.)
CoScripter (Or, "CSi," as I'll now be referring to it) simplifies repetitive daily processes like checking email, flight arrival times, searching for Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.
As my good friend (and director of our WW Developer Programs) Kathy Mandelstein put it:
"This new service is an effective means of giving time back to users who have generally lost many hours repeatedly going through the same motions when using the Web. CoScripter not only makes it easier for users to take advantage of the Internet, but it also encourages community and the sharing of information through the Web."
You can learn more about and download
CoScripter from alphaWorks.
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.
This just in...Reuters is reporting that ad agency JWT trend spotters recently conducted a survey
of 1,011 American adults about their Web surfing and related digital media habits.
Clearly, cellphones, the Internet and digital media are becoming integral to our lives.
So integral, in fact, that 28 percent of respondents admitted spending less time socializing face-to-face with peers because of the amount of time they spend online.
Who needs friends when you got a browser?
Twenty percent indicated that they spend less time having sex because they are online!
Who needs sex when you got a...hey, wait a minute!
(The Reuters piece also mentions something about the partners of the said 20 percent not
being too happy about this fact. That is, I would imagine, unless their partners also happen to be spending so much time surfing, in which case maybe it's okay???)
But, there is some good news also breaking this week.
There is even more
content to watch online, and increasingly, it's free!
NBC's new service
, NBC Direct, will offer free downloads of its shows (shows which previously cost $0.99 an episode on iTunes) in an effort to expand the digital distribution of its programs.
AOL and ABC have joined forces,
with ABC expected to offer free prime-time shows downloadable via AOL Video the day after they premiere (you can wait a day!)
CBS, on the other hand, indicated that the Tiffany network would stick with the polish
of Apple's iTunes...for now.
And not to be outdone, Fox Broadcasting will place free season premiere episodes
of seven programs on iTunes as a tease, hoping to get viewers to watch later installments on TV or pay to download them via iTunes.
Me, I've kind of grown tired of the "which content goes where" argument.
You want me to watch your show, and you want me to watch your commercials, quit trying to make it so difficult on me as the consumer.
Put it on your Web site for on demand? Yes.
Put it on iTunes for free download? Of course.
Put a bunch of intrusive DRM wrappers and other obstacles that make it near impossible to watch the episode?
Fuggedaboudit...I'll buck the trend and go have a beer with my actual
This week was the 25th anniversary of the emoticon.
: - )
that it was Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott Fahlman who was the first to unleash the conveying of ASCII emotions online.
: < ()
Professor Fahlman emerges from smiley silence long enough to leave this of the Google comment feature to get the last word in.
(That was a scuba diver emoticon...I didn't even know they had a scuba diver emoticon!)
If you want to spend some quality downtime today away from Facebook, peruse TechTarget's comprehensive emoticon list.
It will be the best time you've wasted all week.
IBM today released IBM Lotus Symphony
(da da da daa, da da da daa), a suite of free software tools for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations downloadable from our Web site.
And the timing couldn't be more perfect: A day after Yahoo buys Zimbra
for $350M in cash, and the same day Google offers up
its Google Presently app via Google Documents
The code base for Symphony is based on OpenOffice.org,
which last week IBM announced it would formally be joining and dedicating 35 full-time programmers to.
This is obviously a great -- and much, much cheaper -- alternative to Microsoft Office (which even we IBMers use frequently, although I suspect that could now change??), and it comes complete with spreadsheet, word processor, and presentation package.
But having just downloaded an internal beta of Lotus Notes 8 myself, I think the much bigger story here is the opportunity for more seamless integration and collaboration.
On my new Lotus Notes 8 desktop, I was able to launch the new presentation applications from within the confines of my Notes 8 desktop, which is also replete with easy access to my Sametime Instant Messaging, my "Activities" box, my Notes calendar (where I can watch my day dwindle away with endless conference calls), and even a new RSS Feed which, as an information junkie, I'm totally digging. I don't have to launch into another app to get to the stuff I use the most. Huge time saver.
But enough of my commercial. I'm obviously biased.
Check out the even more unbiased view
of this announcement from IBM Lotus sales guru Ed Brill.
If you weren't able to score a ticket to the TechCrunch40 Conference being held out in California today and tomorrow, it's gonna be okay.
This will probably be one of the most blogged Web 2.5-3.0-ish like events you'll ever witness.
You can start by following the action on the official site.
If you have no clue what I'm talking about, the backstory is this: Forty of the hottest new startups from around the World Wide World are going to announce and demo their products over a two day period (today and tomorrow) at an event called "TechCrunch 40."
The big winner gets $50,000 and, with all likelihood, a line of venture capitalists out the door that will make YOUR iPhone waiting line pale by comparison.
Here's a link to a helpful elevator pitch summary
of the leaked 40.
Some that raised my eye...
After a weekend at an outdoor music festival (but also because I love all things crowdsourcing), CrowdSpirit
is sounding particularly interesting. It aims to do nothing less than "start a revolution in manufacturing by creating the 1st electronic products driven and inspired by customers' wishes and expectations."
Huh. And to think I just thought I wanted one of those new touch iPods.
I'm also curious about Powerset,
the natural language search engine. Especially since PowerSet was apparently able to decipher exactly what Miss South Carolina was trying to say
to we U.S. Americans about education in South Africa.
By way of hilarious example, Duncan Riley at TechCrunch explains
that Powerset can do smarter searches "because the engine has a better understanding of the searches' intended goal than with just keywords alone.
A Powerset search for "politicans who died in office" returns info on the subset of politicans who actually died in office. As opposed to returning a group of pages that ranked highly with the phrase. LOL
I'm also interested in FlowPlay,
a "social casual gamer site aimed at teens."
Social gaming for the teen set, HUGE opportunity (if done well) and, if done with a keen eye outside the U.S. in those higher-penetrated broadband markets (I'm thinking wayyy East).
Stay tuned to see who survives the seriously expert panel of experts
If you happened to be in Austin, Texas, this past weekend, and if you just happened to happen by the 6th Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, you will have learned for certain that music is alive and well.
You'll note that I didn't say the music "business" or "industry."
No, I'm just talking about the music part.
"ACL," as it has come to be known, has blossomed from an upstart music festival in 2002 to a full-blown music lovers' feast drawing acts from around the world, some completely obscure, some completely famous.
All converging on our fair city during a usually hellatiously hot weekend in Austin in September (and this year was no different. Sorry 'bout that.)
I don't get out much anymore, as I pretty much live in front of this computer.
So I don't have the same network of people to turn me onto music like I did in college.
Well, ACL is certainly a great way to discover acts that are:
A) new (or at least, new to you)
B) hardly anybody has ever heard of
C) you've heard of, but never seen
With that in mind, some of my faves from this year's eclectic, but very well booked lineup...
Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts
The Arcade Fire
Nicole Atkins & the Sea
If you've never seen Regina Spektor perform, or heard her music, run to the nearest iTunes client and download a track or two (Turbo Warning Label: Do NOT buy the whole album without deciding you have a taste for her music).
For my money, she gave the most brilliant performance of the weekend in what was a very long weekend of brilliant performances.
Recap blogs, set lists, and lots of photos of ACL 2007 here.
(A special shout out to the folks at AT&T. Thanks for the live streams in your blue room. The performances sounded and looked great!)
Technorati Tags: austin city limits, acl2007, live music
All this talk of recession has me wanting to head off to Pamplona to run with the bulls.
I had a friend who ran with the bulls once.
Actually, she didn't actually run with the bulls.
But she did stay at a Holiday Inn one night.
And she did run down one of the side streets in Pamplona to get more rioja wine, which apparently can be just as dangerous as running with the bulls.
Fortunately for her, she survived (not so much the bulls).
As for this market, only time, and a few meetings of the Fed, will tell.
GigaOm Malik was pondering the potential impact of this market on advertising, referring to a report just released by TNS Media Intelligence that outlines U.S. ad expenditures in the first half of 2007.
Here's what you need to know:
TV was down 2.4%, newspaper media was down 5.8%, and radio was down 2.7%
Internet advertising was up 17.70%
Whoa, nelly. Somebody get me a glass of rioja!
The bad news was that overall media expenditures have been down two consecutive quarters in a row.
Are we partying like it's 1999 again? Only the March 2000 Barron's article about how every startup known to mankind is about to run out of money has just come out, and fresh oxygen has just been distributed for everyone who had been trapped in the bubble???
I'm not so sure, as methinks there are at least a few differences between now and then.
One, we have a new generation of kids who grew up digital (hence the 17.70% growth in Internet advertising). That means there's a whole lot more eyeballs on a whole lot more Web pages (and smartphones, and gaming consoles, etc.)
Two, it doesn't cost as much to get into the online advertising and Web publishing game as it did back in the day (low barrier to entry, easier scaling, cheap Linux servers for the house!, etc.)
Three, the Internet market was not as global then as it is today (mucho mas eyeballs).
Of course, playing the contrarian to my optimist, and as Malik also observes, there are a lot more players fighting for the online advertising pie these days.
So, if a full on recession hits, Internet advertising will take a hit.
But it will take a hit against a growing piece of the pie, one that is already disproportionately smaller in terms of spend compared to actual media consumption.
So no, I don't think the online ad bulls of today will get trampled the way they did in 1999.
But I'm going to stand close to the wall, just in case.
Technorati Tags: online advertising, digital media, recession
The recent Skype failure.
The domino effect of a single network card at LAX airport, which shut down the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's ability to process international passengers through customs.
Even the delayed launch of the space shuttle in 1981.
All were victims of system failures and their own complexity, according to an article in today's NY Times.
As Veracode CEO Matt Moynahan explains in the piece, "the Law of the Weakest Link always seems to prevail."
A single flaw or weakness can go on to compromise an entire system.
Speaking of compromised systems, Engadget's reporting the first free, open source iPhone SIM unlocking software.
Hack away all you like, people...it ain't gonna get you your $200 back!
Technorati Tags: apple, skype, system complexity
Facebook continues to dominate the headlines, with today's memes centering around money.
On the one hand, the BBC reports that Facebookers could be costing firms over 130M British pounds sterling a day.
Employment law firm (remember what I posted yesterday about Facebook offering full employment for lawyers???) Peninsula estimates that 233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees wasting time on social networking.
"Why should employers allow their workers to waste two hours a day on Facebook when they are being paid to do a job?"
Well, first off, Mr. Smarty Pants lawyer, I'm not on Facebook two hours a day.
But if I were, fortunately for me it's part of my job to fundamentally and intrinsically understand the finer nuances and macro implications of both personal and business social networking.
But before companies go off and start blocking the Facebook IP address in their corporate firewall filters, they might want to wonder why there's no shortage of venture capital dollars chasing the Facebook management team.
Might Facebook be too corporately legit to quit?
As Kara Swisher reports in D: All Things Digital, Facebook's next round of dineros could be "well beyond its last $25 million one in 2006."
Somebody thinks there's some kind of there there.
Hey, I've still got the remnants of what was left in my dot com stock buying piggybank. Can I get buy into a little Facebook action? Can I, huh, can I?
Turbo officially proclamates that thou Facebookians should getteth while the gettingeth is goodeth.
As the economy slides up to the intersection of 34th street and 5th avenue in midtown Manhattan, where the downhill slide begins, the VC Dilbert pellets could start drying up faster than those blocked Facebook IPs.
Finally, speaking of New York City on this solemn day of remembrance, I just want to reminisce for a brief moment.
I visited the top of the Twin Towers twice during my time living in NYC.
The second and last time I visited there was around February 2000, just after the turn of the Millennium.
It was a freezing cold February day, but my buddy Ed and I braved the cold and the long ride to the top, as I had just taken ownership of my first digital camera and wanted to get some pics from the top of the world.
The pic attached below is one of those taken that bitter cold day in February 2000.
On a clear day you could see for what seemed like forever from the top of the World Trade Center.
In my memory, I still can.
Technorati Tags: 911, facebook
This just in...
IBM has announced that it will join the OpenOffice.org project and is pledging to use the OpenOffice open source software in its products.
OpenOffice.org is the leading open-source productivity suite, one which includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and other modules.
It uses the Open Document Format (ODF) as its native file format, as well as supports other common file formats like Microsoft Office.
OpenOffice runs on numerous major platforms, including Windows, Vista, Linux, Solaris, Mac OSX, and is now available in over 100 languages.
CNET's News blog is reporting that IBM will also have 35 programmers working on the OpenOffice code, and will also contribute software to improve OpenOffice's accessbility features for people with disabilities.
IBM already supports the OpenDocument format in its Lotus-branded document editor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.
Technorati Tags: lotus, open document format, open office,
Yesterday was a great day for sports.
Tiger Woods won the BMW up in Chicago, continuing his momentum towards garnering the first FedEx Cup.
Roger Federer took his fourth U.S. Open in a row in straight sets.
Tony Roma and my Dallas Cowboys welcomed the Giants to Texas Stadium with open arms, particularly Terrell Owens (sorry, all my NY friends).
And Kid Rock took on Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee out in Vegas.
Not inside the ropes of the boxing ring at MGM, mind you, but rather in the audience of the MTV Video Music Awards.
Although judging from the commentary surrounding Britney Spear's return engagement, perhaps the MTV staff should have thrown up some ropes around Kid and Tommy and let them finish a round or two.
That would probably have been a might more entertaining than what was going on onstage!
Of course, if MTV celebrity fisticuffs aren't your cup of tea, know that there's also an interesting battle brewing online, this time on Facebook.
According to The New York Times, reaction has been building against an anti-Islam Facebook group, with some 58,000 Facebook members joining an opposition group which explains that, unless the anti-Islam group was removed, they were "quitting Facebook."
At last count, Facebook was garnering an estimated 100,000 new members a day, so Bob Metcalfe's network effect may deem the otherwise massive protest unnoticeable.
The Times goes on to report that Facebook declined to comment on the subject of hate speech, although one can imagine they can't stay silent for long.
Methinks this will likely be only one of many Facebook free speech discussions to come.
Anybody up for forming a "Lawyers for Facebook Free Speech Lawsuits" group???
Technorati Tags: digitollywood, entertainment, facebook, free speech
Speaking of great online marketing stories, Spread Firefox!, the home of Firefox community marketing, just signaled that Firefox has now reached over 400 million downloads.
I'm surely responsible for at least 100 of those, but that aside, it's nice to see Firefox continuing to pick up browser share.
Aside from the few times I'm forced to use Internet Explorer for certain intranet apps at IBM (yeah, go figure), I use Firefox pretty much full time these days, and I suspect I'm not alone.
The Spread Firefox! movement began back on November 9th, 2004, delivering 25 million downloads in the first 99 days.
That doubled to 50 in the next six months. 100 million in the first year.
And now, three years after the movement started, 400 million.
So, if you put up a Firefox button to encourage the community marketing movement, or are a Firefox devotee, congratulate yourself.
You're part of online, open source, grassroots marketing at its finest.
Technorati Tags: firefox, online marketing, browsers
A good friend of mine in IBM out on the coast had a wonderful, if bitter, Facebook status message on his profile this AM:
"...[Name not included to protect the innocent] is aware of the exact price of being an early adopter. $200."
This in response to Apple's announcement yesterday that it was going to knock $200 off the most expensive iPhone model currently available.
The blogosphere has been in a tizzy.
But being a very competitively spirited marketer myself, I like the angle Nokia took, as pointed out by Mike Arrington.
With lightning-fast efficiency (did Nokia buy an ad network too???), Nokia took out some search ads on Google against the following query:
"iphone price drop"
In response to that query, you get the following ad:
Nice. Rock and roll, Nokia.
Rather than feature their content network, I would have suggested they go straight for the Apple jugular.
Offer some kind of trade-in promotion, or a discount for your roof-tested iPhone.
But I guess at $600 an original pop, that would have been too much of a loss leader.
In any case, kudos to the Nokia search marketing team. No flies on you Fins!
As they say in "John From Cincinnati," "I got my eye on you."
Technorati Tags: apple, iphone, nokia, search marketing
Hey, I feel for those of you in NYC today and tomorrow, what with the taxi drivers on strike and all.
What's most fascinating to me, though, is the rationale for the strike.
NYC wants its cab drivers to install GPS systems in their taxis, along with video screens and touch screen credit card processors.
The problem? These systems cost between $3000 and $5000, and an estimated of $100+ monthly fee, costs which taxi drivers fear they're going to shoulder most of the burden for.
Also of concern? The ability for taxi owners and dispatchers to follow the every move of their drivers via the GPS system.
"Hey Guido, what the ---- are you doing on the Gee Dubya when you oughta be out ta Newark by now?!!?"
My advice to visitors to NYC this week?
Get yourself a subway map, a bottle of water, and a Metro card, and don't be afraid to ask a New Yorker for directions.
Meanwhile, if you're concerned about being tracked via the Intertubes, normally privacy-friendly Facebook is making a really dumb move, one likely with the unadvertised intention of driving more subscriptions to its already fast-growing social network.
They announced on their blog overnight that they are making "limited public search listings" available to non-Facebook users.
That means soon you will be able to use Google and other search engines to find someone's Facebook profile.
To be fair, Facebook will allow one to control whether or not one's profile can be found via a public search
(Go here and uncheck the two boxes under the "Who Can Find Me in Search and See My Public Search Listing" section if you wish to be removed from public searches. I already have.).
But as Om Malik observes, this move turns Facebook into the "quasi-White Pages of the Web."
In so doing, they are diluting the power of an already very viral and useful social network in hopes of easily gathering compounded membership via the public search engines, and boosting their page views as they cast their eye towards the public markets.
Both of which I guess are hardly private affairs.
All I have to say to Facebook is that that is so 1999.
Or was that 1984?
Technorati Tags: facebook, nyc taxi strike, privacy, google, social networking
In the midst of my undergraduate experience (sometime in the late 1980s), I remember PCs and computing becoming an integral part of my collegiate experience.
When I first started back to college in 1987 (I had first began in 1984 before decided after a couple of years some Kerouacian travel was in order), I used a Kaypro luggable computer, compete with the C/PM operating system and two diskette drives, one for the OS, the other for WordStar files I needed to save (remember WordStar???)
Later, I upgraded to a Compaq luggable, which only weighed about 30 pounds, and which had a lightning fast 2400 baud modem. Remember 2400 baud modems???
I remember the first time I communicated with someone over the network (in this case, via CompuServe's CB system).
I chatted with somebody in Sweden, directly from my Animal House-ish fraternity.
I had no idea where Sweden was at the time, but it sure was cool to talk with someone from there.
The point being, I thought I was on the bleeding edge of technology.
Flash forward to the Web feature our ibm.com team just published, one that talks about "social networking" on campus, and how students are now experiencing education through virtual, immersive 3D environments.
Why I remember when I had to walk five miles through the snow...yeah yeah, grandpa, we know, we know, you didn't have 3D immersive environments and you had to send files the old-fashioned way, via FTP!
Call them Generational "D" (for Digital), call them spoiled, call them what you will, just don't call them disconnected, because they're anything but.
They may not be throwing any kegs off the roof, but if they are, you can rest assured they're filming it for posterity's sake and posting it on YouTube or Facebook.
They are wired and mired in the digital experience, and as the Generation D feature points out, they just assume they'll have 24/7 access to the Intertubes when they hit campus, allowing them to do everything from registering for classes online to listening to podcast class materials.
Almost kinda makes me want to go back to school.
Technorati Tags: ibm, college, digital_generation
Sony has apparently finally woken up to the threat that video-downloading services could pose to its consumer electronics hardware business.
According to a story in today's Wall Street Journal, Sony CEO Howard Stringer intends to use the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation (PSP) portable videogame machines -- and its Bravia high-def TVs -- to download TV shows and movies "similar to the way [consumers] download music and videos using Apple's iTunes store and iPods."
Which would suggest Sony has finally come to terms with the notion that good hardware without good software is kind of like owning a really nice sports car while having no gasoline to take it out for a spin.
I'm as big a Sony fan as the next guy. I owned some of the original Walkmans back in the 1980s, and virtually every portable music device I bought since was a Sony, including my first Mini-Disc player, bought while on a business trip to Tokyo back in 2000 -- that is, until I bought my iPod nano.
I also bought one of those big screen Sony Bravia HD TVs in 2005, and have been enormously pleased with it. It wasn't cheap, especially at that point in its lifecycle, but it's the most gorgeous consumer electronic I've owned in my life and I feel as though I got my money's worth.
But being completely dependent on my Time Warner Cable system for content has been frustrating. There's never enough quality content to be seen (especially movies), either on demand or via the cable networks.
So the answer is more downloadable content, right?
Which is why the Apple TV seemed like a logical investment. I could buy content from the Apple store and download it to the Apple TV device.
Only thing is, the filmed entertainment companies are scared out of their wits of getting locked into the Apple iTunes machine, so there's not much there there, either.
And as much as I like YouTube, which Apple TV now supports, I can only watch the skateboarding bulldog and Miss South Carolina's mapspeak so many times before starting to actually eliminate brain cells.
Of course, it looks as though the downloading future could get worse before it gets better.
Just last week, NBC Universal announced they were not re-upping their deal with the Apple store for downloading of their content (For the record, I didn't buy a single NBC title during its time on the Apple virtual shelves), allegedly due to NBC's wanting to double its wholesale price on its shows.
So, increasingly, I look for alternative content that is independently produced and distributed directly online. Which means I can't watch it on the big screen unless I hook up a convoluted display tool from one of my computers.
Somewhere, someone has got to be thinking up a solution to this dilemma. 500 something channels and nothin' on could be easily fixed with a few channels of quality downloadable content.
But entertainment companies with deer-in-the-headlight, head-in-the-sand approaches to illicit digital replication are, I fear, missing the immense opportunity presented by the long tail downloading boat.
I've got good money to spend, and am more than willing to spend it on good downloadable content.
But it has to be cheap, and easy, and without a lot of hurdles in my way. I didn't spend my good money on good downloadable content only to have to run an obstacle course to get access to it.
The last time I checked, I didn't have to run an Army Ranger obstacle course through the parking lot of the Cinemark in order to get into the movie theatre.
Who knows, maybe that's coming as well.
But until the great digital downloading breakthrough occurs, I'm gonna take my extra Dilbert pellets and go spend them on some books at the Half Price Books and Records store down the street.
As for Sony's new downloading mission, I wish them the best of luck.
They're going to need it.
Technorati Tags: apple, digitollywood, downloading, entertainment, sony
It's going to be a bittersweet Labor Day weekend this year.
My dad is retiring today after 42 years as an independent insurance agent in the North Texas area.
His company ran an ad announcing his retirement in our hometown newspaper here, The Denton Record-Chronicle, and it was no surprise he's been flooded with calls these past few days from customers of his from the past 42 years, congratulating him on this important milestone.
It was 1965 when my dad started out in the insurance business as a representative for Allstate, before later hanging out his own shingle and selling for numerous other major insurance companies.
In 1965, LBJ was starting his first full term as president, while escalating American troops in Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.
Martin Luther King, Jr. marched from Selma to Montgomery that year. And the U.S. Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.
We got our first images from Mars via Mariner 4 in 1965.
And also that year, IBM scientists completed the most precise computation of the Moon's orbit to date.
Bob Dylan went "electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, and The Beatles played the first "stadium" rock show at Shea Stadium.
My dad wasn't much into the Beatles, at least not at the time.
He was too busy learning how to sell insurance and provide for his family.
But along the way, he would build what would become a longstanding reputation for being a trustworthy, honorable, forthright, and happy-go-lucky person.
Traits I'd like to think that I at least mostly inherited from him.
As a customer, you might not like the rate my dad quoted you for your insurance, but he always gave it to you straight.
My lifelong love for technology and computers began in my dad's office.
I used to climb up on a chair and fiddle with his new Wang office computer system, and while there was no Halo 3 action to be found, there was a really cool text-based Star Trek game that I never quite figured out, but still played fastidiously.
I just loved punching those keys on that keyboard. I stlll do.
It was probably also from my dad that I got my sometimes insane work ethic, for which I am very thankful.
It keeps me off the streets, and he and my mom away from worry.
In recent years, I was glad to see my dad spend a few more weekday afternoons at the golf course instead of in the office.
He'll be spending even more time on the golf course now that he's retiring, as well as on the open road traveling around the country with my mom in their RV.
But that's okay by me.
He earned those afternoons after so many years tied to that phone at his desk, helping one customer after another.
As your friendly, local independent insurance agent.
Hit 'em long and straight, dad.
Technorati Tags: retirement, dad[Read More]
The New York Times' Ken Belson took a trip to examine IBM's vacation policy, which explains that "nobody's keeping track" of our vacation time anymore.
Well, that's true, although getting IBMers to actually take all their vacation time in a given year is like trying to get Microsofties to stop using Facebook.
TechCrunch's Mike Arrington explores in a post earlier today that on a percentage basis, 17% of Microsoft employees (over 13K) are active on Facebook, including several senior execs.
I'm not sure how many of we IBMers have staked out a camp on Facebook, although I've seen numbers that would suggest we're upwards of 14K population there ourselves (with over 450 IBM-related groups).
Maybe we could plan a vacation to Facebook?
Meanwhile, across the pond, the U.K. Trades Union Congress is advising companies that perhaps it's high time to establish some formal social networking guidelines, lest there be any cyberslacking going on?
One thing's for certain: Just as with vacationing IBMers carrying their ThinkPads and Blackberries to the beach, the lines between personal and professional are increasingly getting blurred.
It will be interesting to see whether or not a rush of employer-employee lawsuits will emerge over the public-professional/private-personal intersection in social networking-space.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to head over to Facebook to send somebody a fish for their virtual aquarium.
Technorati Tags: facebook, ibm, social networking, vacation
I'm falling down on the blogging job, as I've not yet warned you that the U.S. Open is kicking into full swing.
So, here goes: The U.S. Open is kicking into full swing!
I won't be courtside this year...well, physically anyhow.
But I will be able to follow the action closely.
Between my USA Networks HD channel, and the U.S. Open Web site
(brought to you in partnership with the team at IBM), I'll be able to get pretty much all the tennis I can stand.
For example, if you've never checked out the Point Tracker, get ready to watch your head bob back and forth as you watch each point played out on your computer screen.
You can learn more about this and other features on the site and take a wider look at how IBM helps out the U.S.T.A. with a behind-the-scenes video here.
Me, I have to get back to the first set of the first match between Russell and Blake.
Last I checked they were in a 4-4 tie break!!!![Read More
ZDNet UK reported late last week that a user of the Linux operating system had been jailed for uploading a movie to a BitTorrent server.
During his probation period, he must use the Windows operating system if he wishes to use a computer.
Apparently, Scott McCausland's probation officer must install monitoring software onto his computer, and since the software does not support Linux, McCausland must switch to Windows.
I feel a TV commercial coming on.
"Hi, I'm an Ubuntu Linux terminal."
"And I'm a PC."
"PC, could you spare a dime?"
"I need to call my attorney."
In an interview on website TorrentFreak, McCausland said he would fight the imposition:
"It isn't the fact that I have to be monitored that bothers me, it is the fact that I have restructured my life (different OS, different software on the OS) and that they would require (force) me to purchase software while I am currently unemployed. and relatively unemployable with the two felonies that they gave me."
Hey Scott, "Are you ready for Windows Vista?"
Technorati Tags: ibm, linux, ubuntu, vista, windows
Robert Scoble clearly didn't have enough to do this weekend, so it seems he spent part of it with a camera filming himself
in front of a whiteboard.
Must see TV?
Actually, yes, if you're interested in the directions that search marketing and social networking may be headed.
In the three videos, Scoble deconstructs Google, techmeme, and Facebook -- what makes them work, and why -- and suggests that in four years, the people-powered networks of search tool Mahalo and social grapher Facebook could very well push the Google Goliath aside in favor of more integrated social search and networking.
Whether you agree with Scoble's thesis or not, he puts forward some provocative comments, such as "Google does not understand social behaviors," and also criticizing Google for not leveraging their own social networking engine, Orkut, in their own search results.
As I've started to use Facebook more and more, I'm realizing its virality and usefulness is
tied directly to my social "graph," the "friends" I'm linked to. And that is
something that is uniquely absent from the Google experience.
Also, now that the Facebook f8 platform is allowing applications to be submitted and integrated into one's Facebook profile, suddenly the noise and utility filter for accumulating applications is governed by your network.
Meaning, it's the idea of six degrees of separation evolved to some useful end. I don't need to traverse an endless listing of widgets and gadgets. Suddenly, I can get personal recommendations for cool new tools because my own network is providing them.
Example: If John adopts the new "Video" application on Facebook, and suddenly John's friend Suzy sees that John is using that tool, because Suzy trusts John she'll be more inclined to both learn about and install the new application.
And so on, and so on, and so on...pretty soon you've got a powerful and very personal network.
Personal trust equals action. And, as Scoble suggests, "Facebook has learned how to lock out SEO."
In this new socially networked world, the trust now comes from your network, not from Serge and Larry's beauty contest patent (SEO), a system around which an entire industry has sprouted and which, at the end of the day, comes down to gaming the system.
With the tipping point meeting the wisdom of crowds, however, trust trumps rock, paper, and
I know you, I trust you, therefore I'll take your advice and follow your lead instead of having some algorithm attempt to filter it all for me. It's the trust network.
Some are suggesting the videos are a long commercial for Mahalo
I'm not so sure Scoble likes Calacanis that
much, and in any case, the larger points ought not be missed by all the noise from the naysayers and piler-onners (including that incessant beeping on KyteTV where the chatterati comment realtime on the video streams).
As for me, I spent my Saturday afternoon watching da Vinci like flying machines fall off a scaffolding at the Austin Red Bull Flugtag
But I'm glad Scoble was so productive. I like what he had to say, although I'm still trying to connect all his dots.
As for Google, well...Scoble gives 'em four years to connect theirs.[Read More
I had the occasion to visit the so-called "Googleplex" -- Google's headquarter campus in Mountain View -- earlier this summer.
The first thing I saw there other than a gazillion new Google-taken over buildings was a team-building bicycle, powered by ten Googlers who were taking a lunchtime ride.
All ten of them were pedaling, riding what appeared to be the Cannondale equivalent of a spider.
Maybe it was a mobile meeting?
Strange sights, indeed.
I must say, I was most impressed with the Googleplex campus, especially the free food (including the custom-made smoothies).
They had everything you might need at the Googleplex, including a volleyball court and laundry facilities. Why would you ever leave?
Which is, I guess, kind of the point.
Apparently the politicians have now also discovered the Googleplex, which is a must stop on the whistle stop tour that is American politics.
The New York Times has the full spin, but don't think for a moment all those young millionaires with lots of money falling out of their pockets would have anything to do with the politicos visit.
Surely, it's the Smoothies.
Of course, the politicos could be out there sniffing around the Googleplex in search of beta units of the long-rumored GPhone, which Duncan Riley from TechCrunch believes will be immediately compared to the iPhone.
Hmmm...I wonder if the GPhone will come with a 300 page phone bill wrapped in a GoogleBox?
Technorati Tags: google, gphone, politics
The continued ironies that occur on an almost weekly basis in this industry still don't fail to amuse, if not surprise.
The same week YouTube announces its new advertising overlay unit for YouTube videos, IBM releases its latest Institute for Business Value survey on consumer digital media and entertainment habits which reveals, shocker of shockers, that young people are watching TV less and using the Internet more.
You can read the press release
here. Now, can you feel the ground trembling beneath your feet?
In the survey, 19% of respondents reported spending six or more hours per day on the Internet, compared to just 9% who said they spend the same amount of time watching TV.
Sixty percent said they spent one to four hours online per day, compared to about 66.
Of those surveyed, 19% reported spending six or more hours per day on the Internet (only six??!), compared to just 9% who said they spend the same amount of time watching television.
Sixty percent said they spent one to four hours online per day, compared to about 66 percent who said they spend the same amount of time in front of the TV.
On the TV front, 24 percent of U.S. respondents reported owning a DVR (guilty) and watching at least 50 percent of TV programming on replay (more like 90% pour moi).
And 33 percent reported watching more TV than before they got the DVR (sooo guilty it's not even funny).
Are these signposts to the digital TV and Intertubes future? More control, more on demand?
You betcha. And also significant implications for the media, marketing and advertising industries.
"Media and entertainment industry players will have to become much better at providing permission-based advertising and related consumer-driven ratings services," said Bill Battino, a managing partner in IBM's Global Services unit, about the survey results.
Trackable, slicable, diceable, inferenceable, correlative, targeted digital advertising and communication based on explicit consumer expressions (search queries, online viewing, online shopping behaviors, etc.) is the future of marketing.
It's not just about the eyeballs anymore. And increasingly, it's going to be all about the data.
Get the full survey results here.[Read More]
My blog and I found a new home earlier today.
We really liked the new neighborhood, so we decided to move, from www-03.ibm.com over to www-128.ibm.com server.
(If you saw my blog go dark, it's because it was literally
in the moving van).
If you access this blog with just www.ibm.com, it will work both before and after the move. This isthe preferred link:
Meanwhile, our most excellent blog team is working on some re-directs which should be in place.
Depending on which RSS feed reader you use, you may need to unsubscribe/re-subscribe to re-activate. You can updatethe URL for the feed to one of these:
If you're reading this via an RSS reader, and you'd like to miss the redirect hop, use this for your feeder:http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/rss/Turbo?flavor=rssdw
Please update your records accordingly. Aug 21 2007, 05:38:40 PM CST Permalink