Jun 13

Mahalo now for you too

Jason Calacanis’ new search engine Mahalo expands today, with Mahalo Greenhouse. You can apply to be a ‘part-time guide’, submit search entries and get paid for doing so, $10-15 but only if you are a US citizen or permanent resident. I’m neither but still work and pay taxes in the US – so I think that needs changing. If you are from somewhere else, there’ll be a donation to Wikipedia, making this a good way of donating to that foundation.

i find this line “PTGs can’t write search results that already exist on Mahalo” interesting. You have to submit something new, which widens the topics covered, but at some point it will be a law of diminishing returns, surely?

They’re looking for experiences web curators; the application requests URLS and usernames for many of the community driven sites. Unless you’re already active on the web, you’re not getting in. It’s calling for altruistic people, those who want to help. And you’re unlikely to be be making a lot of money off this, but it could by you the odd beer.

As a service, I’m liking Mahalo, as a supplement and value add search engine. It sits between a more typical SE and Wikipedia in finding out useful information and giving an overview of the topic. It gives you a further source, a curated source that allows you to expand your research, as you should be doing anyway of you’re looking for things. A recommendation engine with a sense of humour ;-). Jason’s always trying to shake things up – I’m pretty sure he’ll never stop pushing wikipedia to accept advertising – and Mahalo could be a success in doing just that.

Jun 06

NY Tech Meetup

I went along to the NY Tech meetup last night and had a good time. Five short presentations from companies in the NY area, plus a couple of extras from James Hing of Hot or Not (who I also met with on Monday at an IAB event) and Dave Weinberger who gave a 10 minute version of his book. However, Dave and Sanford have done a great job of blogging the actual presenations, so I’ll just add my impressions.

  • Goloco. After the success of Zipcars, Robin moves into shared journeys. Join and you can find friends who are going to the same place as you. Lovely implementation, aimed at existing groups rather than random strangers who meet online.
  • ExpoTV. I’d never seen this before but superb extension of the review space into video. The revenue share for the reviewers, at $5/video is a good idea. They are realistic about advertisers getting into the mix and provide a way for it to be transparent.
  • LiveLOOK. You can share screens via a browser without any downloads, so it can be an alternative to stuff like webex without a download. A paid service, especially useful for service agents, although I was uncomfortable with an answer to a security question (what’s to stop you just putting numbers in until you find a live feed). There are free alternatives to this, ie MSM share desktop, that will be useful for c2c usage but there is an attraction for b2c or b2b.
  • Adaptive Blue. I loved this, taking metadata from pages and extending them via contextual menus in the bowser or direct via links. Installed!
  • Mogulus. This got the biggest reaction of the night, with a vary cool demo. The service allows you to run video and do lots of cool overlay stuff, live broadcast, plan programming etc. Another entry into the lifecast area, but more focused towards linear programming

The other 2 sessions were a last minute overview of Hot or Not and how James is putting the service onto Facebook and a run through the ideas behind Everything is Miscellaneous from David; it’s a pity I’d already bought the book and read it, as I did not have it with me to get it autographed. One last aside, I found it strange that there was a cheer raised when it was announced that 4 of the presenters were women – if you have to bring attention to it, you need to work on doing it differently.

Apr 26

A New Treo

Through the kind people from Palm (and their PR agency Edelman) I received a nice Treo 680 to play with for a while to see how I like it (and then I have to send it back). This all started at Blogher Business, where they had a stall set up with devices and info. Up until now, I’ve been managing on my feature-less Pay as You Go phone but was planning on upgrading and was not sure what to get. This gives me a chance to try something out and see how it suits me. The phone I had in the UK was OK, but I didn’t use nearly half the stuff it was capable of, partly because I wanted it to do online things and I was always aware of the cost involved. Now, I’ve upgraded to a all you can eat data plan and the incentive is different – I’m paying for it already so I better use it 😉

The only requirement is that I use the Treo and I blog about it. So whether it’s good or bad, you’ll here about it. I’ll also be using the camera (still and video) to take records. It means I’ll be able to take more shots than if I had to lug around the SLR all the time; some will go on Flickr and some here.

Opening up the box, i found plug attachments (one for every style as far as I can see). the charger is a good design, you can just slip the plug prongs on and off to change it for the country you are in. There was also a headset and a USB connector (through which you can also charge the device). the headset is fine, but I tend to work my way through them quickly; also why don’t device manufacturers allow you to plug in a standard jack when they give you a music player. The only thing missing from the box was the software CD; it also did not come with an instruction manual, but the online documents and the ondevice tutorial were fine. The lack of software was solved through downloading straight from the site.

All of done today is set up the email client, synched with Gmail through POP and installed Goosync, to allow me to match up my calendar. Although I can use gmail mobile, I quite like the client version, makes it slightly easier to manage. The only issue I had is I needed to restart the pop connection on gmail; it wanted to download everything since November, which led to it freezing up on me. Not the best idea, so restarting it from today seemed a far better idea.

Apr 25

My Telegraph

Via Adam Tinworth, I see that the Telegraph is launching a new service, called My Telegraph. Y

My Telegraph allows any reader to create their own blog, store all the comments they make on other readers’ blogs and save articles to read later. Version one of the site, which you can see below, will be ready to go live soon.

This is a different way to go than USAToday, which allow you to comment on stories and vote for them (but never against them). It’s targeted at non-bloggers and I think it’s a great way to get interaction with the paper and with likeminded individuals around issues and news stories.

Feb 06

Walmart Video and the importance of cross-browser testing

Walmart launch a new video download service today. Apparently their development team is browser challenged as they only appear to have IE available to them. Under that app, their site looks, well, not beautiful but at least OK.

Walmart Video on IE

However, on Firefox it looks like this:

Walmart Video on Firefox

I know that sites sometimes launch without full testing…and that Walmart Video is probably targeted fully at those who have never heard of anyother browser but a token effort to fail gracefully would have been nice. (Tip: Valleywag)

Jan 30

NYC January Mobile Monday

Update: I got the wrong impression from the talk (see, told you that this was all new) and Chaals has updated more in the comments and gives me a far clearer picture of what I was trying to understand.

On Monday I went along to Mobile Monday, this month a 5 hour celebration of SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics. This was held at the Samsung Experience in the Time Warner centre, which remained open during the event so I’m sure the people wandering around looking at the electronics were suitably bemused.

Whilst developing in SVG goes way over my head, it was interesting in hearing from people and companies that develop in the space, giving me an idea of where applications are going. Whilst not ubiquitous, SVG is on enough phones on models to make an impact across the board, being particularly prevalent in high end corporate models where the main applications appear to be in business intelligence and other professional services. But with the release of it far more phones with Java, applications are going to expand.

One point pushed by Charles McCathieNevile, Chief Standards Officer at Opera, is that SVG is perfect for building platform agnostic web applications, or would be if IE and firefox adopted it. He particular emphasised it’s use in building accessible websites, a passion of his. A lot of the same challenges that come with building computer-based accessible applications are there for all apps on the browser, tiny type, limited access to keyboard, lack of colours etc, so solving those issues for the small screen means that your apps should be better on a larger screen. His desire, and that of others speaking, was for one web – the same code being used across all platforms. Charles was someone I’d love to have had a longer conversation with.

Another speaker was Daniel Appelquist, from Vodafone and one of the founders of Mobile Monday London. I must admist when he started to explain what Vodafone was I thought he was being ironic, not realising that the brand is not known very well in the US at all (being 40% of Verizon Wireless only). One of his key focuses in his job is Open standards and vodafone’s participation in setting and evangelising such standards so that it is easy to build mobile platforms across manufacturers and carriers. They’ve been using SVG to develop soem great applications, one such being a Bubdesliga Player that launched in Germany 2 weeks ago, which brings you live scores from football games, news and live video clips. The demo he showed looked pretty cool. One last thing he announced was that within the next 2 weeks, Vodafone would be launching a developer community network, called betaVine. Targeted at individual or small company developers, the idea is to support them and give a showcase for their applications so that early adopters can find and test them them out. This will launch sometime in the next 2 weeks.

I didn’t stay til the end, moving out to go to the Google speaker event, but some thought starters about what could be possible in the US.

Jan 11

iPhone lawsuit

I guess Apple never got round to signing those licensing agreements with Cisco for use of their trademark term iPhone. And now they are suing.

“Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco’s iPhone name,” said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco. “There is no doubt that Apple’s new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission.

Update 18/1: Google likes this site for Iphone lawsuit and as I don’t actually have a lot of content here’s some links that look good:

  • the orginal Cisco Blog post is linked above.
  • Apple Insider has statements from both parties
  • Pretty similar news articles can be found at iPodObserver, ItWire, the Wireless Weblog, TMCNet, etc, etc – there’s a fair few posts about Apple callignthe suit silly.
  • ignore the sites with iplawsuit in the domain – they look and feel (at least today) like spam sites that are just reprinting content with a lot of ads attached.
  • I go to the BBC for mainstream news. But there’s not too much new in that over the other online news sites.

But, after poring through a few of these, after you have read a few of the news articles, they are all pretty much saying the same. I guess we have to wait for news.

Jan 10

iPhone reactions

To be honest, I’m not really into phones. I have a pretty good one for the UK, all 3g and live tv and browsing etc but the data plan sucked and it’s no use where I am. And my US phone is just about manages to phone and text, there nothing else really to it. So looking at the iPhone coverage I can drool over the design but as for the functionality, if I bought it it’s just end up being a big phone and ipod I can’t put in my pocket, so would sit in the bottom of my bag getting scratched.

And once you get past the design, what is really new about the phone. As Robert says, there’s always a reality distortion field when it comes to Apple announcements. The range of functionality is not too hot as far I can read; Tom has a good piece looking at what it can do compared to his current phone. So again, design good, features not so good. There’s back and forth on a mobile marketing mailing list about design vs functionality, especially about what appears to be the closed nature of the system, without the ability to add functions, tools and widgets. Then again, lack of functionality never stopped the iPod. Would I buy it – probably not. Cool gadget, too expensive for what I would actually use it for.

Dec 19

Online Tab Saver

With Firefox now allowing you to open the browser with the same tabs it closed down with by default, I’ve been looking for a way to synchronise open tabs across 2 or more PCs. So that where ever I am, i can have the same set of open tabs. There’s a number of ways to share bookmarks across instances of the browser but not your current tab set, as opposed to the tabs you set as home. I want to be able to set it up once and that is it. No having to remember to click things, it just does the saving for me when I close.

Jul 24

Geek Activism

One of the posts I did find in trawling the new Technorati was Devanshu’s 95 Theses of Geek Activism. A great list og things that you should be concerned about, tying in well with many of the talks I attended over the weekend.

Jello Biafra gave a a superb 2 hour keynote, focusing on the theme fromthe day before of Provacy is Dead and covering his former bandmembers, his feelings towards the FBI, US foreign and home policy, Oprah, the Media Marketing Accountability Act, the COPE act and net neutrality. This, combined with the talk previously from Robert Steele makes me think (despite not knowing many of the political and national references) that I’m not paranoid enough.

Jul 21

Spam email

My domain is being used in a spam email, so I’m currently sitting on about 3000 returned/out of office mails. Not the best problem to have. Now I have to go through and delete everything 🙁

May 09

Warner Brothers and Downloads

I see that Warner Brothers are going to be providing downloads of movies and TV for about the same price as the DVDs at about the same time. They plan to use BitTorrent as vehicle.

No need to manufacture a disk and packaging, no need to distribute, no need to provide the retailer with a cut, maybe no extras, can only play on one computer so no backup when it goes wrong. And they are charging the SAME PRICE!!!! This is called taking the piss.

May 04

WeMedia the conference

I spent some of the morning watching the WeMedia on video stream and via the online chat and IRC, then got to see a couple of sessions at the conference. There is a lot of blogging coverage about the event, some from participants, others from the virtual attendees.

The blurb says “The We Media Global Forum brings together the trailblazers of the connected society – the thinkers, innovators, investors, executives and activists seeking to tap the potential of digital networks connecting people everywhere”. From the bits I saw and the people I talked to, not too sure that really happened. Digital networks change things, move and share power, giving the potential to take control out of the hands of the few and spread it around. This can happen with or without the current set of gatekeepers. I would have thought the conference was about providing a chance for the traditional media centres to take stock and assess how they are going to support the devleoping communities across the world.

Instead I got the impression that what was being said on stage only supported the existing worldviews. There was little challenge, the same old questions were being asked and little movement made. Rebecca McKinnon puts it well: “The question we really ought to be focusing on is: how can citizens and professional journalists work together to create a better and more well-informed public discourse?”. Instead, it was the same debates about them and us, bloggers are scary and don’t we (media) know best?

I’m not sure if today’s was any different – I was travelling all day so missed it.

Apr 05

Swedish Beers

On Tuesday, I went off to the Swedish Beers night, a mobile networking event. Douglas from Sponge ws talking about mobile groups and marketing. The group Jane’s Addiction were given mobiles on a tour; fans were encouraged to sign up for a text group and the band sent updates tot he group whilst on the tour. As well as general updates, they also used it for a form of flash-mobbing. After playing at Brixton Academy, the band announced a back of the theartre, post-gig acoustic set, and also announced a Covent Garden busking concert, which lasted til the police moved them on. This is a geat example of engagement with fans.

Apr 05

London 2.0 Meetup

On Monday, I went along to a London 2.0 meeting. As usual with many of these meetups, the first time go along you’re never quite sure who you are looking for. But this time it was slightly easier. The venue chosen was near to the law courts so was full of suits; the meetup group, being primarily in the technical area, weren’t, making them slightly ewasier to spor than usual.

I spent some time with Ben discussing reevoo, a UK consumer product review site. It has both formal reviews and customer reviews, collected via feedback emails/interviews and from blogs. The customers of the company are the retailers, who pay for feedback, but the reviews are not sanitised.

There were a number of demos presented. The photo below shows everyone watching the demo from Python Hosting from Remi, who demo’d a very cool install control panel with one-click installations of web app frameworks. From the ooohh, arhhs and offers to pay moeny there and then, it was a popular demo. The other demo was from Phil, who showed off Protest, a test application that streamlines the process.


Mar 08

Wifi everywhere?

The BBC ia running an article about the spread of wifi in the wild, with hotspots extending to form zones and more and more people getting wifi in their homes. What it doesn’t mention is the conflict between paid services and free wifi. Companies ever increasing their coverage is one thing, but without a single type of sign-on, having to run multiple accounts toget wifi can be a problem. There are small efforts to go down a municipal route, but these are not yet widespread. One move i see is similar to the way we use telephone wires. Almost all users are connected to the same physical network, but they can choose who provides the actual service and takes their money. I don’t see wifi becoming free and ubiquitous anytime soon in the UK, but the service model may be a way forward – I pay for my connection and I get the service whether from home or whist roaming.

Feb 16

Women In Technology Network

Last night I attended a networking event run by Women In Technology, with the topic of Flexibility in the workplace. There were 2 very different keynote speakers, a panel debate and then a chance to eat and drink and chat.

Eileen Brown was up first, talking about how technology helps her be flexibile in the workplace. With a 130 mile each way commute, she relies on being always connected – the phone is her friend. She’s helped by a culture at Microsoft that has set up all the tech required to be able to work anywhere. She did more in a 15 minute speach to explain the benefits of the anytime/anyplace MS office than any of the poor dinosaur ads. Some great numbers in explaining the reach of devices – MS apparently have just over 5 PCs for each employee.

Second speach was from Ray Testa of Lehman brothers. A lot, lot drier, looking at the policies and procedures the company has. Not too much that I could take from that. The following panel answered pre-submitted questions from the audience (no interaction, no chance to reflect and challenge the speakers in the public forum). The general theme was about strategies to convince the companies to do flexible working, about the change management required to adopt to a culture where there is less command and control and more trust.

One very annoying thing, picked up in later conversations was a few of the assumptions of the panel. On being asked about balancing career and child care, the answers were along the lines of get a nanny or get your partner to stay at home. One of the women from Accenture mentioned a survey of successful female Partners in the firm – the one thing they all had in common was a stay at home husband. But very few people have the salary to support a family on one income or to employ a nanny, or have a partner that would be prepared to stay at home.

This event was a completely different event from the Girl Geek Dinners. Both women-focused, both opportunities to network. But the WiT is the corporate, seminar style, controlled panel, looking at bigger business, looking at supporting in a formal way; organised through a paid team Girl Geek Dinner is your small web start up, flexible, changing organisers, locations, M.O’s. There’s very little cross over between the 2 events in terms of attendees. I definitely prefer the later way.