Monday, December 15, 2008

Fingerprints Can Reveal Drug Use, Medical History

Watch what you touch people. Might be time to bring gloves back into fashion.

A careless touch could be all police or insurance companies need to determine not only your identity, but also your past drug use, if you've fired a gun or handled explosives, even specific medical conditions.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Battered, but not broken: understanding the WPA crack

You may have heard recently that the WPA security protocol for WiFi had been cracked. Well, sort of. To be sure, it has been compromised, but you might be just fine and you should definitely continue to use WPA if WPA2 is not available in your wireless router.

And while we're on the subject, under no circumstances should you rely on WEP for wireless encryption unless you have absolutely no other choice and you firmly believe that abstinence-only education works.

Tews pointed out that "if you used security features just for preventing other people from using your bandwidth, you are perfectly safe," which is the case for most home users. Someone can't use this attack to break into a home or corporate network, nor decipher all the data that passes.
Read on as Glenn Fleishman at Ars Technica provides all the nerdy details.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

AT&T gives free WiFi access to iPhone users

AT&T seems to have finally pushed the button—prematurely clicked a few times earlier this year—and granted iPhone subscribers the same free access to its national WiFi hotspot network that DSL, fiber, laptop 3G, and business subscribers already receive. The company posted a revised WiFi hotspot network page this morning, and reportedly texted some iPhone users with the new info.
I've also heard that Boingo offers free WiFi service for iPhones, something that would be handy at many (most?) airports. Further, I've heard that you can access said Boingo service on your laptop by using Firefox with the useragent set to iPhone. I wonder if this trick would work at Starbucks....


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NashMash Adds Opt-Out Options

Today, the developers of NashMash over at 365 Creative have added a variety of opt-out options for people whose accounts end up on their list of Nashville area Twitter users. Among the options are: not being followed when the bulk follow is processed, not being included in the new randomizer that displays a Nashville Twitter profile at random, not being available to be the featured user of the day, and, lastly, not being included on the public list.

While this is a drastic improvement over the prior situation, I would much prefer to see this as an opt-in list rather than opt-out. This is especially true for accounts that are marked private and I hope that the developers will consider making at least this change. I do like the granularity in the opt-out choices, as they provide reasonable options for finding a comfortable level of participation.

Clearly, the developers are looking to retain as many people as possible on the list, but given the amount of ill will generated yesterday, I'm surprised that they haven't issued a more public statement. A simple post to the website explaining their intentions and apologizing for the inadvertent public launch of the service might go a long way to ensuring that people don't opt-out in droves. It might even gain them some support. Nonetheless, I do appreciate them providing information about the service to me and their willingness to post comments here.

What say you?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NashMash Releases Frankentwitter on Unsuspecting Nashville Twitterverse

Late yesterday, local Nashville developer 365 Creative released a new Twitter mash-up that quickly generated strong reactions among Nashville users of the Twitter service. Dubbed NashMash, the service allows a Twitter user to follow all the users located in Nashville in one step. That's 1652 new contacts at last count. And countless updates added to the user's Twitter stream.

A few people who enjoy having lots of followers, or who like to follow a lot of people, have reacted positively. A large number of others have reacted with great disdain at the volume of new followers and the notices that come with them. I haven't talked with anyone who submitted their credentials to the service, but I've heard about some negative reactions to the resulting deluge of updates and text messages and frustration at not being better forewarned about what was going to happen to them. [UPDATE: Twitter user andi37206 used NashMash today and certainly had a strong reaction to the results.]

I've been told by one of the developers behind the service that they have stopped processing new requests for now. Once Twitter catches up with the follow requests in queue, we should see an end to the inundation of new followers and notices. I'm also told that the auto-follow feature was developed as a proof-of-concept for a separate commercial application that they envision for Twitter. (I should also note that this person was my source for suggesting the service be called Frankentwitter. Kudos to them for understanding that they released a monster and for having some self-deprecating humor about it.)

Before the service is restored, if it is restored, I would encourage the developers to add at least the following improvements:

  1. Do NOT include protected accounts in the list of accounts that will be followed. (For the most part, these people are not interested in unknown followers, so why provoke them.)

  2. Provide an easy mechanism for people to opt-out of being on the list of accounts to be followed. (Even better, make the list opt-in, as Dave Delaney has done with his Official Nashville Twitter List.)

  3. Explain more clearly that by using the service you will be adding a very large number of accounts to your Twitter feed. (The current instructions aren't very clear on this point.)

  4. Provide a mechanism to undo all the follow requests. (I don't know how this would even be possible, especially without un-following all of the people you were following before you bulk-added the others, but good luck to the person who wants to manually un-follow 1600 people.)

  5. Do NOT initiate the follows with notifications turned on. (Oh, man, I can't imagine how many text messages are generated by 1652 Twitter users.)
Please add your suggestions and feedback in the comments.


Monday, October 27, 2008

CodeWeavers Giving Away CrossOver on Tuesday

If you have an Intel-based Mac and an occasional need to run Windows apps (or you're thinking about switching to the Mac) and you don't want to pony up for Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion (plus a license for Windows), then tomorrow is the day for you.

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, anyone visiting the CodeWeavers' Web site will be given a deal code that will entitle them to one free copy of CodeWeavers' award-winning CrossOver software. Each copy comes complete with support.
CrossOver is based on the Wine open-source project and allows you to run many Windows applications without having to install or license Windows. That's right -- Windows apps without Windows. And without sending your hard-earned money to Redmond. There is even a version for Linux.

There are, of course, a few caveats. Like compatibility is only guaranteed for a list of certain mainstream apps (including MS Office and many games) and apps that rely on newer Windows components are out of the picture. But if you just need to see your website in Internet Explorer or you occasionally need to access an IE-only website, this is a great solution. And tomorrow, it's free!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reviews of the first Android-powered GPhone Roll Out

HTC G1, image from msnbc.comHTC's G1, the first Android-powered smartphone, hits T-Mobile stores on Oct. 22. A few journalists have spent some time with the phone in advance of the launch and have begun sharing their early reviews. Much as you might expect, they are finding plenty to like and plenty to improve.

AP: Google's first phone smart, but needs work
PhoneScoop: HTC G1

WSJ: Google Answers the iPhone
MSNBC: Android phone is a good iPhone alternative


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BarCamp Nashville Returns This Weekend

Last year's inaugural BarCamp Nashville was a rousing success, even if the venue was a little cramped and over-heated. I've met a lot of people in the Nashville tech/geek community in the year+ since and everyone agrees that it was a pivotal event in bringing that community together.

Building on last year's success, this year's event moves to a larger, more comfortable venue in the Sommet Center and broadens the opportunities for speaking with four simultaneous stages. If you have an interest in new media, social networking, web applications, online marketing or anything kinda techie in Nashville, then you should be at BarCamp this weekend. Registration is free. Anyone can sign up to speak. And you can check out some of the topics on the website. Also, be sure to follow BarCampNash on Twitter.

See you at BarCamp!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm Fired Up for PDC 2008

Seriously, what kind of programmers are motivated by this video? And do you really want them writing code for your platform?


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

AT&T: LTE 'Significantly Available' In 5 Years

Speaking at a technology conference, Hank Kafka, VP of Architecture for AT&T Mobility, said that AT&T has, "a lot of runway left with HSPA and HSPA-plus." He went on to imply that HSPA will continue to serve as AT&T's high-speed data network for at least another two or three years.

Kafka also mentioned that WiMax will remain a niche technology, and said that no company should be using the term "4G" (which is what Sprint is calling its Xohm network) until the standards bodies ratify the requirements of 4G networks. He expects LTE to be widely deployed within five years.

WiMax will remain a niche technology? Despite Sprint and ClearWire's major deployments happening now? Wow. Either that's a major insight or completely wishful thinking. Either way, I'm not sure it's a smart bet to think HSPA and HSPA-plus will cut it for "another two or three years." That's a helluva lead time they're spotting Sprint/ClearWire on introducing 4G to the market.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Protect yourself from phishing scams

Recently, Consumer Reports demonstrated again how they're completely in the deep weeds whenever they review computers and, more specifically, operating systems and applications. But, unlike the computer writers at CR, you can protect yourself from phishing scams and still use Safari (or any other browser).

Consumer Reports touted Firefox or Opera over Safari because of the built-in anti-phishing tools in those first two browser; Safari has no such built-in capability. There is, however, a free service you can use that will give every browser on your Mac a full set of anti-phishing tools (and additional tools, if you choose to use them). This service is called OpenDNS, and it’s a free replacement for your Internet service provider’s (ISP) domain name servers.
As a bonus, your connections will likely resolve faster than they do using your default DNS servers. And, of course, this is not a Mac-specific solution. It should work on any device that lets you set the DNS servers to be used.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First iPhone 3G reviews trickle in

A few tech writers have had early hands-on time with the new iPhone and are releasing their initial reviews.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NBC To Offer Complete Olympics Online — But Only To Windows Vista

Oh, this is rich. For the first time, NBC (which owns rights for the U.S. television market) will offer complete video of the Summer Olympic Games online. Yay! The service, dubbed, "NBC Olympics on the Go" will be available only for users of Microsoft's Vista Home Premium and Ultimate operating systems. Say what?!

But the new service is available only to computers running Microsoft's (MSFT) Vista operating system — a limitation that leaves out millions of Windows XP and Apple (AAPL) Mac users as well as those using mobile devices such as iPods and mobile phones. And only two flavors of Vista — Home Premium and Ultimate — have the Media Center component necessary for running NBC's software. That eliminates most business notebooks.
So, uh, it eliminates all the people who don't have Vista or who have downgraded to XP or who didn't pony up for Premium or Ultimate or who actually might be "on the go" during the games?

It doesn't even look like Microsoft paid for the exclusive. Are these people really this astronomically stupid?


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Misconfigured Laptop, a Wrecked Life

Heads up to anyone who works somewhere that has an acceptable use policy for computers (which should be everywhere, but that's another story altogether). Here's a great reason why computer users would be wise to learn a little bit more about using a computer than just what they need to do for their jobs.

And it's an even stronger admonition to IT administrators that circumstances should be throughly investigated before accusations are leveled and action taken.

Don't let this happen to you.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3 Brings Ugliness to the Mac

Firefox does not use Cocoa controls. However when they tried to copy the OS X buttons they must apparantly made a few mistakes, because the buttons does not look anything like the OS X buttons. And as soon as a few effects are added it just gets worse and worse.... It’s not Windows, it’s not OS X and it’s not Linux. It’s something else.
Today might be Firefox 3 Download Day, but I'm not sure how excited I am to install it now that I've read this summary of the UI irregularities in the version for Mac OS. I haven't used any of the betas, so I'm sure I'll go ahead and download today's release just to check it out. But still, what are they thinking?


Monday, June 16, 2008

Apple's open secret: SproutCore is Cocoa for the Web

SproutCore is an open source, platform-independent, Cocoa-inspired JavaScript framework for creating web applications that look and feel like Desktop applications
Say hello to Cocoa apps for Windows and Linux. Kiss Flash good-bye.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

IE8 development: Microsoft should learn from Apple, Mozilla

Ars gives the latest rundown on Microsoft's development of Internet Explorer 8 and the challenge they face in dealing with their past inattention to standards compliance. At least standards compliance appears to remain a top objective of this next release.

To stop losing ground to Firefox and Safari, Internet Explorer needs to stand head and shoulders above both of them. But with Microsoft's lack of clear objectives, infrequent releases, and poor communication, IE8 will be struggling to even achieve parity with its competitors.


GPS Manufacturers Should Be Very, Very Scared

Apple is bringing a faster, sleeker 3G iPhone to market—and it's the end of the portable GPS market as we know it.
Obvious assessment or not, Slate offers a concise analysis of why you should only be selling Garmin short and possibly be considering an investment on Tom Tom.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Hands on with Brightkite: real-world social networking

This Ars Technica article does a pretty good job of explaining BrightKite and how to use it. Essentially, BrightKite lets you answer the question, "Where are you?" and shares that location with others. It will also show you who else is at, or has been at, that same location or nearby. It's very similar to Google's Dodgeball and Yahoo's Fire Eagle, both of which are also in limited release.

I've been using the service for a few days now and am impressed with the overall design and ease-of-use. For me, the primary limiting factor right now is the rather small number of my existing friends who use the service. However, I am experimenting with BrightKite's integration with Twitter, which has the potential to expose my BK check-ins to a wider circle.

Unfortunately, there aren't separate privacy controls for the feed to Twitter—Twitter sees the same as what you have set to public—so I'm working out just how exact I want my check-in locations to be. For example, "home" is currently just the part of town where I live, but retail locations are address-specific. After all, there's not much point in checking in at the coffee shop if no one can see more than just the city and state.

If BrightKite sounds appealing to you, Ars has a limited number of invites to the private beta. Jump in. All the cool kids are doing it!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

iJustine's "4 Minute Download"

iJustine puts on a great tech-oriented parody of the Madonna video "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake. Of course, it's much funnier if you're a tech geek and you've seen the original video.

Watching iJustine writhe and pose for the camera, I can't help but wonder if she's parodying Madonna or T-Lake.

[via FakeSteve]


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our Ecosystem Rocks!

You might have seen this video already, since everyone and their brother linked to it yesterday, but it's still worth posting here just in case you haven't seen it yet and, well, because I just can't pass up commenting on it.

Gruber calls it an "embarrassingly bad internal Microsoft video extolling the virtues of Vista in the enterprise..." that "epitomizes Microsoft’s culture and institutional bad taste."

Boy, that just scratches the surface. This video offends on so many levels, it's difficult to name them all. Let's start with the slaughtering of a Bruce Springsteen classic. Actually, the lyrics by themselves are dismal enough to offend.

And the portrayal of the customers? Mindless pawns easily swayed by slogans and acronyms? Doltish, big-headed boss? Glassy-eyed, star-struck female? Does Microsoft really see its customers like this? Or want its enterprise sales team to see them like this? Now, I know this video wasn't intended for external audiences, and especially not for customers, but how can anyone buy with confidence from a company that values it's customers in this way?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Download YouTube Videos as MP4 Files

I don't think I've ever had a reason to do this, but if I ever did, I'm sure I'd much rather have an MP4 file than crappy Flash video.

An interesting side-effect of YouTube's recent push for higher quality videos is that most videos can be downloaded as MP4 files directly from YouTube. Until now, you could only get FLV files from your browser's cache or using one of the many websites that let you download YouTube videos.
Why would I prefer MP4 files over FLV? That's easy.
YouTube's MP4 files have a higher resolution, stereo sound and can be played with applications like VLC, MPlayer, iTunes, QuickTime. Not all YouTube videos can be downloaded as MP4 files and the fallback format is FLV.
Jump get the properly formed URL, bookmarklet, and/or Greasemonkey script.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

View "iCal Events" on Dashboard

Gruber likes it, so it must be good, right?

Free Dashboard widget by Ben Kazez, shows you a list of events from iCal for the next few days (as opposed to Leopard’s default iCal widget, which only shows events from today).
I'm trying it out now and so far I'm favorably impressed. The widget is resizable, let's you see up to two weeks of upcoming events without having to open iCal, and pops up event details when you mouseover them. Also, it appears to load quickly on Leopard which is a big concern for me as I truly dislike having to wait for fresh content to load when I drop into Dashboard.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Cell phoning from home pits WiFi against femtocells

"What the eff is a femtocell?" you might be asking yourself. Short answer: another mystery box to add to your home network, but this one let's you make mobile phone calls over your broadband Internet connection.

"Why would I want to do that?" Two reasons: 1) unlimited free calls from home; 2) better coverage inside your house (or office).

"Couldn't I do the same thing with a WiFi-enabled mobile phone?" Why, yes, yes you could. If you can find one.

From the network's perspective, femtocells accomplish the same thing as an IP-enabled cell phone, in that they shift call traffic off the cell network and onto the user's broadband connection.
Jump for a quick summary of the current situation.


Gmail being throttled, blocked by some anti-spam vendors

If you send email from Gmail, be forewarned: your messages may be delayed or outright rejected.

Over the past month, major anti-spam vendors have had to apply scrutiny to Gmail in a way they haven't had to before, and the result is reduced delivery performance and sometimes outright blocking of Gmail. Some messaging hosts are being instructed to reject SMTP connections from Google.

It all began when Google's bot-busting CAPTCHA for Gmail was defeated sometime in February. According to sources around the anti-spam industry, the result has been a marked increase in spam originating from Gmail SMTP servers. Some say the spam increase started even earlier, but all are in agreement on one thing: this is a serious problem.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Firefox 3 vs. Safari 3

After a few weeks in the arms of Firefox 3 betas, I’ve returned to Safari as my daily browser. Unsurprisingly, it’s the interface that drove me back.
Gruber ticks off the design advantages that Safari holds over Firefox—in function as well as user interface—as well as a few spots where Firefox outdoes the Apple browser. Gruber's priorities might not be the same as yours, but his analysis is illuminating and may alter the way you assess browsers.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Color Wars Erupt on Twitter

At approximately 11:05 am CT yesterday, zefrank sent the following tweet:

Good Morning! As you can see, i am now a member of the blue team!
And then all hell broke loose. No one really seemed to know what was going on, but plenty of people wanted to avoid being left out. Teams started sprouting up in support of their favorite colors, or non-colors, or patterns of colors. Within 12 hours, at least 1,000 people had begun following at least one of the 30+ color teams and countless others were asking, "what's this color wars thing?"

Of course, zefrank provided only limited guidance, posting the occasional cryptic tweet throughout the day.
what team are you on? don't make up some imaginary team either...for God's sake the color wars are coming! 11:10 am
i'm losing track of teams - please make sure that your team has a @_____team- for example @blueteam 11:51 am
choose your team, make your badges (you don't have to wear them all the time - just when we start playing) today is "pick your team day" approx. 12:40 pm lets be hush about the teams thing.lets put away our badges for the time being.color wars will start soon enough.back to normal :) approx. 2:40 pm
the first colorwar2008 scrimmages will begin in the next couple days...a crack team is working on it approx. 6:40 pm

By the end of the day, most people still didn't know what was really going on, and plenty of people had opted out altogether. Yet even some of the non-players didn't want to be left out and jumped on the noTeam and teamblack bandwagons. And then there were those, like Voltron, calling for peace and unity.

This morning, however, we awoke to a simple tweet from zefrank, linking to his blog post explaining the Color Wars as some kind of virtual recreation of games he played as a kid at summer camp. As word of the explanation spreads, the jury is still out on how popular the actual Color Wars might be, but at least for the first 18 hours or so, the lead-up swept the Twitterverse like a storm. Or, perhaps more fittingly, like a virus -- demonstrating the potential of Twitter for rapid, viral dissemination. As well as the potential for all of us to return to our middle school/junior high days given the right circumstances.

So which color team have you picked? Follow the action at (where this story is re-posted).


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Twitter in Plain English

Seems like just about everyone's using Twitter but you. What's all the fuss? Find out by watching this excellent 2.5 minute tutorial from the fine folks at Common Craft.

Then get off your sorry ass and start tweeting.

[via sleepydad]


Monday, February 25, 2008

Force Feedback Gaming Vest Uses Compressed Air to Mimic Pain

If I had one of these, maybe I'd be more of a gamer!

Also known as the 3rd Space Vest, the Force Feedback gaming vest from TMgames is filled with compressed air pouches in order for you to feel the pain when you're hooked up to your console and having your butt kicked by scary aliens. Compatible with around a dozen games, including Call of Duty, Doom 3, Quake 4 and Medal Of Honor, so if you want to feel what it's like to be knifed, shot, blown up or merely punched in the kidneys, you might think about shelling out $169 for this.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Fontogenic Candidate Selection

Following up on our recent post about comparing the Democratic candidates with their corresponding computer platforms, today we introduce political analysis based on typography. Really, could this blog be any more geeky?

Gruber sets the stage (in a way sure to please Jackson): "If you’re going to cast your vote based on the candidates’ choice of fonts, it’s Obama all the way."

A Font We Can Believe In

I think it’s interesting that the design of Gotham was influenced by early Modernism, another movement that was about change and social idealism. And I like that the design aesthetic that may help move Obama into the White House was inspired by the humble NY Port Authority Bus Terminal sign. -Helvetica film director Gary Hustwit
[Yes, someone made a film about the font Helvetica. Seriously.]

McCain After Shave Balm
Hillary's snooze of a serif might have come off a heart-healthy cereal box, or a mildly embarrassing over-the-counter ointment; if you're feeling generous you might associate it with a Board of Ed circular, or an obscure academic journal. But Senator McCain's typeface is positively mystifying: after three decades signifying a very down-market notion of luxe, this particular sans serif has settled into being the font of choice for the hygiene aisle. -H&FJ
You've really got to see the mock-ups with this one.


Monday, February 18, 2008

John Gruber: A Mix of the Technical, the Artful, the Thoughtful, and the Absurd

If you love John Gruber and Daring Fireball as much as I do, well, you should be arrested for stalking. And then you should read this man-behind-the-legend interview by Shawn Blanc.

SHAWN: Do you have any advice for writers who are struggling to find their voice?

JOHN: I honestly don’t know what works for others. The act of writing, like any art, defies description. Some of the best advice I’ve seen regarding how to write essays is from Paul Graham. He says writing is thinking, and, insightfully, that writing forces you think better. He wrote, “Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well.”


Drobo is da Bomb

Apparently, it's gadget lust week at fishwreck. Here's the latest entry.

You pop the front off of the box to reveal four empty drive bays. Each one can hold a SATA-standard hard drive mechanism (which are as cheap and plentiful as greed and avarice). Just buy some and slide them right in. Installing drives in the Drobo is no more complicated than inserting a frozen waffle into a toaster. No screws, no mounting brackets…just push it into the slot until the bay’s retaining clip clicks into it.

You can mix and match capacities, leave some of the drive bays empty…it doesn’t matter. Dump the storage in and close the door. Drobo figures everything out all out on its own. Plug it into your computer and it appears as a standard, single USB storage device ready for formatting.
The feature list goes on and on -- it's redundant, you can hot-swap drives, and upgrade capacity on the fly, and hang it on your network -- and yet it remains simple to use. Read on to get the full grok.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chumby hands-on: What fun

Or maybe I just need to get one of these. I know Down By Design wants one!

It's a little touch-screen Web appliance that can display a changing lineup of personalized widgets for you: Clocks, photo galleries, Twitter feeds, and so on. The Chumby gets its data over WiFi, and you control what widgets it displays on the site


How to make a Physical Gmail Notifier

I was given a lovely glowing cube by the generous people at Linden Labs as a freebie at a job fair yesterday, and I decided that it was far too attractive to simply sit there on a shelf, pulsating forlornly until its batteries went flat. How about making it useful, while maintaining its visual appeal?
I gotta get me one of these cubes! Anyone know where to get one? (And, no, I do not want one of those not-nearly-as-cool units from IKEA.) [via Gizmodo]


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Apple TV Take 2, Now with AirTunes, Soon with Airfoil

On Tuesday, Apple released version 2 of the Apple TV software, a free update dubbed "Take 2." You've likely heard about the major changes like buying from the iTunes store directly from the device, the more refined user interface, support for movie rentals and web-based photo slide shows.

What you might not have heard is that the new software also allows the Apple TV to act as an AirTunes device. This means you can stream audio from iTunes on your computer through your Apple TV to your sound system, just like you can with an AirPort Express. You can even control iTunes on your computer using the Apple TV remote control. Nice.

But what if you want to play audio from some other source on your computer? Or synchronize your audio stream to multiple AirTunes devices or even to other local Macs? Enter Airfoil, a $25 application from Rogue Amoeba that allows you to do just that. Except that it's not quite compatible with Apple TV just yet, but they're working furiously on an update that will deliver that capability. Double nice.


The Appeal of the MacBook Air

Somebody finally gets the idea of the MacBook Air. And, of course, it's Gruber.

It certainly is a compelling secondary machine for anyone whose primary machine is an iMac or Mac Pro, but for many people, the MacBook Air will serve just fine as their one and only computer. (Again, consider an analogy to a convertible coupe — for many, yes, it’s a secondary car, but for anyone without kids and with no need for significant storage space, it works just fine as their only car.)


Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Natural Born Clickers”? Who are these people?

Just 6 percent of the online population (dubbed “Natural Born Clickers”) are responsible for more than 50 percent of display ad clicks.
Online advertisers aren't going to like this at all. Not only do these heavy clickers account for the majority of ad clicks, they also behave differently than average Internet users in lots of other ways -- like spending four times as much time online but not spending more money than the average. So much for effective advertising online -- it's now a much more complex environment. Or maybe it's just back to the old 50% adage and same as it ever was. New media advertising is old media advertising.


Starbucks Deal Brewed with AT&T Has Hints of Apple

AT&T and Apple clearly cut a deal where Starbucks benefits from becoming a digital media hub: It's going to be the place where people congregate to use Wi-Fi as part of the monthly service fee that they already pay AT&T - this wasn't announced yesterday, but it's absolutely coming - and where they download media from Apple....

It's not a leap at all that Starbucks, already a big music producer and seller, and one interested in revitalizing its business after a few years of drifting from its core coffee mission, would embrace the idea of being the place people who don't even like their coffee come to fill up on media, use the network, and hang out.
I was thinking the same thing. Apple and Starbucks are partners for free Wi-Fi access to the iTunes store for iPhones and iPod Touches. Apple and AT&T are partners for the iPhone. Not a big leap to see Apple as the common element linking AT&T and Starbucks.

How nice of Glenn Fleishman to spell out all the details for me. In fact, he provides lots of additional details about the Apple-Starbucks relationship. This looks to be a much larger initiative than any of them are letting on. Get ready to spend a lot more time at Starbucks.


Be a Qwitter: Quit Smoking with Twitter

Well, this is about awesome. Apply a social tool to help reduce a social problem. Clever implementation, too.

You can easily keep track of how many cigarettes you smoke each day.
You can keep a journal of your thoughts & feelings as you strive to smoke less.
You can view your progress over time.
You can share this information with others who can support you.
[via Dave Delaney]


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bluetooth to Piggyback on Wi-Fi

The popular wireless technology known as Bluetooth could get a lot faster next year by taking advantage of Wi-Fi technology already built into many gadgets.

Linking Bluetooth and Wi-Fi may make it easier and faster to transfer large amounts of music between computers and cell phones, or send pictures from a camera phone to a printer, or video from a camcorder to a TV.

The combination devices will use the regular low-power Bluetooth radios to recognize each other and establish connections. If they need to transfer a large file, they will be able to turn on their Wi-Fi radios, then turn them off to save power after finishing the transfer
Devices won't be available until the middle of next year, but with ultra-wideband falling ever behind schedule, this looks like a great interim plan to boost transfer rates and hold down power consumption.


Sony Ericsson to make Windows Mobile phones

Sony Ericsson and Microsoft will cooperate in making smartphones, with the first Sony Ericsson handset based on the Windows Mobile operating system on sale by the end of the year.... The Microsoft deal means all the world's top handset makers apart from Nokia will now have Windows Mobile versions.
What the hell is wrong with Sony these days? Are they completely devoid of leadership and risk-taking and even decent decision-making? Next they'll be adopting Palm OS or whatever it's called this month.

If they don't have faith in their own ability to execute a smartphone operating system, why go with Windows Mobile when they could choose market leader Symbian or mind-share leader Android? Choosing Windows Mobile seems all too ho-hum and also-ran. "Hey, we've got Windows Mobile just like everyone else." How are they going to differentiate their products based on that?

Today's Sony is so far from yesterday's Walkman.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

SuperDuper Now Leopard-Ready

"Now fully compatible with Leopard; makes a great companion to Time Machine. One of the best Mac utilities ever made." -Gruber


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC?

"On one thing, the experts seem to agree. The differences between and can be summed up this way: Barack Obama is a Mac, and Hillary Clinton is a PC."

Well, this is certainly a new way to analyze the candidates. Beats the heck out of talking about what they wear, as at least there is some substance involved. I'm not sure it's the best guide to selecting the candidate you will support, though.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Brace for It: Switch to Digital Broadcasting Misunderstood by Most

"Much of what consumers are learning about the looming shift to digital broadcasting is just plain wrong and could end up costing them money."

More than that, they're going to be looking to you, their nearest tech geek, to help them figure it out. Probably after they've already wasted money buying some equipment they won't need. Think not? Consider this:

"Among those consumers who are aware of the transition [64 percent according to a Consumers Union survey], 58 percent believe all televisions will need a converter box to function. Forty-eight percent believe that only digital televisions will work after 2009, and 24 percent believe they will need to throw away all of their analog television sets."

See how you've got your work cut out for you? So, in anticipation of the coming onslaught of questions and requests for help before the February 18, 2009, end of analog broadcasts, here are your talking points, neatly condensed:

  • If your television is hooked up to a cable or satellite service, you will NOT be affected; you will NOT need a separate converter box (that's almost everybody; see how easy this will be).
  • If you own an older television that gets its signal via antenna (aka rabbit ears), you will need a converter box (that's about 13.5 million television households, or about 12 percent, according to Nielson).
  • If you want to get a converter box, each household is eligible for two $40 coupons to help offset the cost, regardless of whether you have a pay-television service or not. To request a coupon, you can apply online at or call the 24-hour hotline, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).
There you go.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Will Only Outsiders Deliver Innovation in Mobile Phones?

When Apple introduced the iPhone, many of the established mobile phone makers publicly scoffed at Apple's ability to enter the mobile phone market, especially once they saw the pricing and the absence of a physical keyboard.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan "laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector. 'We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,' he said. 'PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.'" Three months after launch, the iPhone had about triple Palm's market share in the US.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proclaimed, "There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." Again, just three months after launch, iPhone was outselling all Windows Mobile phones combined.

Of course, we've also seen a lot of established manufacturers introducing iPhone knock-offs in an attempt to compete with the iPhone's success. You might have noticed the LG Voyager, since it's almost always shown with an iPhone-like home screen.

Gruber sets us straight: "That's actually not the main UI of the phone. That's just the interface for accessing secondary features of the phone. The main UI is just like that of any other crap LG phone, and one of the 'apps' you can launch is the iPhone knock-off 'shortcut' mode. And, when you open the slider, the inside screen has a third different UI. The overall experience is worse, way worse, than that of a typical LG phone."

Google has a new open platform, Android, under development that may offer some innovative devices once they start shipping later this year. And Nokia's N95 receives rave reviews, except for it's ridiculous $695 pricepoint.

So who is going to offer a real competitor to the iPhone in this space? Sure as heck not Motorola. They've done such a fine job with the ROKR and the Q. How about Garmin? "What," you say, "the GPS maker?!" Well, sure. Why not. If a computer maker with a great UI can make an awesome phone, why not a handheld GPS maker with a great UI?

Meet the Garmin Nüvifone. Okay, they might need to work on the name, but this phone hits all the other bases square: attractive case design, 3.5" touchscreen, built-in still/video camera, SMS and MMS messaging, a whole host of Google apps (search, maps, mail, traffic, weather), and, of course, GPS-based navigation (duh). Plus it's Wi-Fi and 3G capable. Anyone besides me see a legitimate iPhone competitor here?

I sure hope Apple does.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?

The best marketing to come out of Microsoft since, well, ever.


Web Snapshots Are Nabbed for Commercial Uses

"It's not like the picture was some golden chalice of Internet wonder. It's a picture of a stupid dog," says the Baltimore mom. "But it's my dog and it's my photo!"
Tracey Gaughran-Perez tells Monica Hesse of the Washington Post about discovering an unauthorized photo copied from her blog, Sweetney, in the Saints-Eagles football telecast on Fox.

Big media never tires of warning people not to make unauthorized use of their content, but somehow it's okay for them to do it themselves. Think this is an isolated incident? Read on.

But in an increasingly user-generated world where the public is the artist, sometimes it's the big boys who get grabby. And the questions that arise are about ownership, but they are also about fairness, and changing culture, and ultimately, the search for authenticity.


The Future of Social Networks

In a guest column on GigaOm, Brian McConnell writes about the past and future of social networks. I appreciated the review of previous incarnations of online social networking, but I'm finding his postulations about the future to be a bit long-winded for a rather simple idea: an open standard will be developed/adopted for social profiles (much like RSS for articles, iCal for calendars), online publishing platforms (e.g., Blogger, Yahoo!) will adopt it as a feature, and then commercial social network providers (e.g., Facebook, MySpace) will be in big trouble. There, I said it in one sentence.

However, what I find truly interesting about this subject are the implications of this likely development. And not just in terms of who wins and who loses. More like, who will be first to exploit the new standard in some innovative way (Plaxo?, Tumblr?, start-up?), what new compelling thing will commercial social networks become in order to survive, and (once all your social data is accessible) how will you be able to use this meta-data about yourself? Enter Jackson Miller's conceptualization of 3D social networking.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Get Connected at PodCamp Nashville

I'm Going to PodCamp Nashville
Following on the success of last summer's BarCamp new media "unconference," tech-savvy musicians, marketers, bloggers and developers will gather next month in Nashville to discuss new media and podcasting. PodCamp Nashville, which is free to the public, will be held at the historic Cannery Ballroom on Saturday, February 9, and is designed for anyone interested in online media to share ideas, hear from industry experts, and participate in discussions and demos.

Just like BarCamp Nashville, PodCamp promises to bring together creative, tech and business types from across Nashville to exchange expertise and collaborate on developing new ideas and projects. It's a fantastic opportunity to meet people and get involved in local new media development. Organizer Dave Delaney recommends that interested participants register in advance to be assured admission.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Warner Bros. opts for Blu-ray over HD DVD

Looks increasingly like Blu-ray Disc will win this decade's beta war, as Warner Bros. ends support for HD DVD.

Dropping the standard is expected to create a tidal shift in the balance between Blu-ray and HD DVD. While both formats have until now offered a similar amount of movies in their format, Warner's defection may place as much as 70 percent of all major-label HD movies in the Blu-ray camp.
Guess it's time to run out and buy a player now....