July 26, 2010
Yowza. US copyright protections just got a LOT more interesting for tech and iPhone folk, thanks to the Library of Congress.
For those of you who don’t know, LoC is a key arbiter in US copyright law. Since they work with the intellectual property of US citizens all the time, and presumably can move faster than USPTO or Congress, they also can rule on what does or does not constitute US copyright violations.
June 28, 2010
Ain’t never been a problem that somebody can’t turn into an opportunity. The latest is potentially a boon for musicians and videographers, and possibly the next step in a reeeeeally interesting trend in creative digital rights management, by a Portland-based company called Rumblefish.
What’s interesting is not necessarily the new service they’re proposing, which lets home movie makers legally add popular music to their videos, but its implications for other artists: Would this be a good service for other types of content rights management, too?
May 8, 2010
Need a little extra wonder in your life? Now’s your chance: You could have a hand in picking the NEW seven natural wonders of the world. And incidentally help beef up the coffers of a starving promoter in Zurich.
According to this fellow, the old wonders* are a bit long in the tooth, and he’s updating the list.
Seems like someone’s always coming up with a new 7 Wonders list, and the definition has been broadened to include more than man-made wonders. About 15 years ago CNN proposed a “natural wonders” list that included the Grand Canyon and the Northern Lights. (Query: Since the Northern Lights aren’t IN the world, but actually high above it, do they count?)
February 24, 2010
Companies, if you support me, I’ll support you.
I will go out of my way to buy from you. Even if you cost a bit more, I will buy from you. All you have to do is support me.
Was reading today about the drop in Dell’s stock price, and my first thought was, “Serves ‘em right.”
June 1, 2009
Got allergies to cats? Got five thousand bucks and a lot of patience?
You, too, could own a hypoallergenic cat…not. And thereby hangs one of the nicest examples I’ve seen in awhile of how the Web can make things tougher for con men. The Web is most certainly rife with fraud, but if you take the time to do a little online research, it’s also one of the best ways to spread the word on crooks.
April 1, 2009
Silicon Graphics finally tumbled to the bottom; it’s being acquired by Rackable Systems for a piddling $25 million. At the height of its glory SGI probably spent that much on year-end holiday celebrations.
This isn’t a huge surprise, I suppose. SGI pretty much slid through the gamut of I call the 9-step marketing plan to oblivion that seems to hit most hot high-tech companies:
- Here’s a brand new thing. Seems pretty cool.
- Here’s the hottest product on the planet!
- We’re Gizmodagon. We’re hot. So are our products.
- Breakthrough innovation from the company that brought you Gizmodagon I.
- Gizmodagon. Products that just work better.
- Gizmodagon. A name you can trust.
- Gizmodagon. Our people make us great.
- We’re not your dad’s Gizmodagon anymore.
- Gizmodagon. Now available at Walmart.
If a high-profile tech company gets to #7 without a massively effective overhaul–and I can count on two hands those that have–I figure they’re pretty much toast.
Not that SGI wasn’t filled with great innovators, or that there wasn’t a heckuva lot of prestige in owning their products. There was–I have an SGI LCD panel that’s still a thing of beauty, even if it no longer works. But yesterday’s expensive new server is today’s flower box.
SGI just never seemed to get past waiting for data center guys to toss out those nasty-cheap Wintel boxes and crawl back home. It’s too bad, too: The earth missed out on a lot of very cool visualization stuff when SGI lost relevance. Let’s see what Rackable does with what’s left.
February 28, 2009
For $6,495, you can be the marine equivalent of a Christmas tree topper.
Eternal Reefs will take your cremated remains, mix them with concrete, pour them into a mold, add a bronze plaque and sink it into the sea. Voila! A coffin that’s also a coral reef.
February 26, 2009
Just read Roy Blount Jr’s worries over Amazon’s new Kindle 2 in the NYT. Apparently its text-to-speech feature will kill the audiobook business, destroying the livelihoods of all writers for centuries to come.
Oh for heaven’s sake. Has Mr. Blount actually HEARD text-to-speech? Or an audiobook? (Despite his claims to the contrary, I doubt it.) Comparing TTS to an actor’s performance on an audiobook is a bit like comparing a rock to a Ferrari: Both roll down the hill, but that’s about it.
Absolutely, positively proves the old adage: Write about stuff you know.
Authors’ livelihoods are in jeopardy for many reasons: Books are being subsumed by the Web, reading ain’t exactly in fashion, recession-caused advertising woes are killing writing jobs right and left, newspapers are dying. And the head of the Writer’s Guild chooses to spend his precious NYT op-ed space on the Kindle?
Give me a break. And somebody elect a new guild president.
February 9, 2009
Bunch of us were discussing management moments this morning and I contributed a favorite: The large-ish dot-com where I worked had had another Final Downsizing* (I rode all the way to FD No. 7 and not long after the company fizzled).
In this one, FD No. 2 or 3 as I recall, the surviving employees were sent to the company’s big central conference room for a rallying speech by the CEO. The room sported a new giant projection screen on the back wall with a podium, Patton-style, in front. As everyone sat, the CEO stepped into the spotlight.
December 24, 2008
SnapTell helps you find the best price for a book, CD or DVD you’re interested in buying. You use the iPhone camera to snap the cover, then SnapTell identifies the title from its database. It will deliver reviews and a rundown on prices, new and used, from the nearest local stores, Google, Barnes & Noble, eBay and Yahoo. It lets you comparison shop while you’re actually standing in the store, and–assuming it can get to the data, which is a BIG assumption–could be a boon to students trying to save money on textbooks, for example.
It can’t do the impossible. A snaptell of corporate distributions, such as Bullseye Glass’ Connections video, generally returns a “No match found” error message or it picks the closest match in its database, which can be fun. One of Philippe Faraut’s excellent sculpting tutorials, The Art of Sculpting: Children (left), came back listed as Budapest at Night, a CD of Hungarian music by Sandor Lakatos and his Gypsy Band (right).
I can see the probable landmarks that SnapTell established between the two (the square photo, arch of the sculpture’s head, the bangs and the left temple, the neckline, etc). Corning’s latest DVD, Glass Masters at Work: Lino Tagliapietra, a documentary by Robin Lehman, shows up in SnapTell as a $400 textbook, Linear Motion Electromagnetic Devices for similar reasons. Still, those are mile-wide misses that demonstrate the problems inherent in relying on image matching alone.
If I need to compare prices on, say, the English version of Princess Mononoke, it could really come in handy. And it will also save time; I can snaptell an entry to a friend looking for a particular book much faster than I can type in how/why buy info on Gigi-the-iPhone’s lousy screenboard.
Of course, behind the noble purpose–saving money–lies clever marketeering. SnapTell comes from SnapTell, a SilliValley mobile marketing firm that’s using image matching and mobile phone cameras to drive marketing campaigns. Mobile cameraphone users snap photos of ads and products to learn more about them, and participating companies deliver the info along with messaging and branding reinforcement.
For companies, it’s a potentially very effective way to reach the mobile demographics, especially since anyone going to the trouble to take a picture of an ad is already at least partially sold. For users, it’s a fast way to get more information, coupons, freebies, etc., without touching a desktop PC. And since it’s inherently opt-in, it’s far more welcome (presumably) than mobile spam.
The downside for users, however, is the usual: Signing up is forever, and once a company has you in its database as interested, it’s up to THEM to stop. And there’s another con: Since SnapTell isn’t in the game for philanthropy, presumably whoever shows up on the SnapTell bookstore list is either a free resource or has paid to be there. No pay, no show.
That’s probably why the two most obvious book resources I use, Amazon.com and the local Powell’s, were nowhere to be found. Since I’ve no intention of downloading an app for every establishment I buy might something from, and since my consumer info is a valuable marketing currency, SnapTell is either gonna have to sell everybody or figure out how to provide comprehensive info and still make money. Google did it–let’s see what SnapTell comes up with.