MSN Beta to Ramp Up
msnsearch's WebLog notes that starting next week they'll increase the amount of search traffic they send to the new MSN search engine. Oshoma Momoh also points out it's still in beta and "we will officially launch it when it’s ready." Seems like a lot of search products stay in beta for a while.
No blogging, no social networking
Saw this a few days back and thought i'd wait to see if anything else emerged but as i've not heard much else about it im going to assume there's some truth to the rumour that Iran have censored blogs, Orkut, Yahoo Personals and other social media:
Friends in Iran, journalists and technicians, are saying that judiciary officials have ordered all major ISP to filter all blogging services including PersianBlog, BlogSpot, Blogger, BlogSky, and even BlogRolling.
They have also ordered to filter Orkut, Yahoo Personals and some other popular dating and social networking websites.
For ISPs this means a big loss, since much of their recent sales have been because of people writing and reading blogs and surfing Orkut. So the government is effectively eliminating small and private ISPs by bankrupting them, whiteout paying a political price for it.
I see Dan Gilmor is also reporting this today but he doesn't appear to have any additional information other than hoping that proxies and so forth get set up quickly.
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sleep (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)
Thanks so much to Cory at boingboing for pointing out this essay on sleep. As geeky tech types many of us are i suspect quite familiar with odd sleep patterns right? Personally, I resent the time it takes out of my day and am constantly fighting to stay up late and still get up early to try and fit the most into my waking time that i can.
This essay has me thinking about my habbits in some new ways and if you have sleep trouble or just a general interest i'd highly recommend the loooong read :)
Here's one paragraph that really struck a chord with me:
As Robert Anston Heinlein said:
"Waking a person unnecessarily should not be considered
a capital crime. For a first offense, that is."
One thing I noticed upon arriving to the States is that nobody here seems to have any notion of "sleep manners". I have seen (and experienced) many times people barging into the room containing a sleeping person, switching on the lights and TV, talking, even talking to the sleeping person, all the while not being even aware that this is a Big No-No, very inconsiderate, and extremely rude. When confronted, the response is usually very defensive, stressing the person's individual right to do whatever he/she wants and not bother about being considerate about some lazy bum who is sleeping at an inappropriate time. Whoa! Stop right there!
First, individual rights are assumed to mean that you can do whatever you want as long as that does not hurt another person in some way. Waking someone up is harassment - of course it hurts someone. Second, there is no such thing as inappropriate time. If you can, you sleep whenever you can. There is no appropriate or inappropriate time. What do you do if someone is working the night-shift (like my wife often does, and I sometimes do, too)? That person will sleep during the day, so you better shut up. Third, what is this about sleeping being a sign of laziness. The "owls" are constantly being treated as lazy, though they are more likely to be sleep-deprived (cannot fall asleep until the wee hours, then being rudely awoken by the alarm clock after just a couple of hours) and spend more hours awake (and presumably productive) than "larks" do. If you are asleep, this means you need it. If you are rested enough you cannot physically remain asleep or go back to sleep again. You are wide awake. Thus, when you see someone asleep, it is because that person needs sleep right there and then. Sleep is not laziness.
More power to the people says HP
It's been interesting to watch Hewlett Packard move into the digital lifestyle area, they seem to be taking to it well and im impressed with the fact that their new media hub is based on Linux! :)
The BBC has a nice summary of Carly Fiorina's, HP's top dog of tech, speech at CES this year. Here are some of the more notable quotes:
"The digital revolution is about the democratisation of technology and the experiences it makes possible, Revolution has always been about giving power to the people."
Part of giving people more control has been about the freeing up of content, such as images, video and music.
Crucial to this has been the effort to make devices that speak to each other better so that content can be more easily transferred from one device, such as a digital camera, to others, such as portable media players.
There's a whole bunch of good stuff in there so do check it out. Could HP be an exciting company? - I've always thought of them as rather stuffy, but some of the things they have coming out now are really quite cool...
G-Money and Me: Bill Gates Interview
Well, a transcribed audio interview is certainly more palletable than watching Calacanis beaver his way round CES 2005 with a microphone and camera heh..
It's not a bad read, and apparently there is more to come so i'll post it as a comment when/if i catch it. From the intro:
I would ask the hard questions: Does Balmer really eat children? Can I swim in your Money Bin? I didn't quite muster the balls to ask those, though, and instead acted like I had real questions or something.
The Importance of Being Permanent
Simon Waldman of the Guardian is talking about a lot of the things that SEO's and web devs in general have been doing for years, and thought, untill now(ish) that maybe they were onto a good thing as most of the big players clearly didn't get it.
You might scoff a little, i know i did, but then why? The press are allowed to bee n00bs aswell and Simon is a good chap, i've been reading his blog since he started it and like what he has to say on many things.
He's talking about some concepts many of you will be very familiar with, such as:
Long term Search rankings
Getting other sites to link to you (oh my...)
It's a long read, but a good one. Here are a few snippets:
Why should you want today's news to be read in 12 months time when everyone will be focused on the next disaster, explosion or election?
It's important for a number of reasons, but they all move in the same direction: permanence is about ensuring you have a real presence on the Net. It is a critical part of having a distinctive identity in an increasingly homogenous landscape. It is about becoming an authority and a point of reference for debate.
Here's another example. Think of all the millions of words written by news organizations around the world about Abu Ghraib during 2004. Now go to Google and search (as suggested in the Wired article above) for Abu Ghraib, and you will find only a handful of traditional media outlets mentioned in the first few pages (fortunately, the Guardian is one). This isn't just a quirk in Google's search algorithm; this is about traditional media ceding responsibility for providing the definitive, permanent record of major events.
All that reporting effort, all that insight and expertise, all those contacts: now completely invisible to the millions who decide to use Google as their first and final tool for researching.
Yahoo! Picks of the Year
This is great :) Check out the threadlink above for the full listing of Yahoo! web picks of 2004 found on the Y! blog and then check out my personal favorite David Hasselhoff Online! ahh... Knight Rider...
David screenshotHasselhoff recently experienced a new low when he was picked up by the LAPD for suspicion of drunk driving. Everyone makes mistakes, and the Hass is simply a human being who made an unfortunate decision. He needs your support now more than ever, and David Hasselhoff Online is a site that's ready, willing, and able to give you the tools to be there for everyone's favorite bare-chested life-guard. Start with a look at the covers from the criminally under-appreciated Knight Rider series of books.
Everyones favorite knob end...
Lots to see and do, if you're just in from the pub you're gonna like this a LOT..
Piper Jaffray: New iPod rivals still aren't enough
Looks like the Creative Zen Micro is the nearest serious rival to the iPod so far - this quote from the MacMinute post threadlinked above:
In a research note to clients Friday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the iPod still has no equal, despite a number of new entries coming from CES this week. "After the introduction of a handful of new portable audio devices yesterday at CES, we believe that the iPod is still in position to dominate this market," Munster said. "Of the other players looking to chip away at Apple's market share, Creative is gaining the most traction with its Creative Zen Micro. We believe that Creative may have had the most crowded booth at CES.
Mozilla and Firefox flaws exposed
Here's something that's been buzzing around for the last week: A bunch of security holes in both Mozilla and Firefox browsers. Mozilla users have the most to worry about it seems as the Firefox ones are relatively minor:
The most serious flaw involves a buffer overflow bug in the way Mozilla processes the NNTP (news) protocol. The bug creates a means for hackers inject hostile code into vulnerable systems, providing they trick users into executing maliciously constructed news server links. All versions of Mozilla prior to 1.7.5 are affected. Firefox users are advised to make sure they are running version 1.0 to minimise any risk. The flaw was discovered by Maurycy Prodeus of Polish firm iSEC Security Research.
There are two other minor flaws involving the download dialogue box being vulnerable to spoofing and problems with the email client - see the threadlinked securityfocus post for details...
Digital Audio Aims for the Mass Market
A short but interesting look at digital audio devices and formats in the context of the huge amount of coverage at CES 2005. The techreview article threadlinked above is part one of two and although brief, does raise (for me) the question of when, not if, the CD will die:
Though the first portable MP3 player debuted in 1999, most personal music libraries still consist of piles of CDs, and relatively few people listen to digitally recorded radio talk shows and books.
The consumer electronics industry is doing its best to change that, there being serious lucre in prodding people to join the digital audio revolution as long as it's convenient.
At this week's International Consumer Electronics Show, it was impossible to walk more than a few feet in the 1.5-million-square feet of exhibition space without stumbling over a digital audio equipment display
Personally i cant wait till the CD finally snuffs it. I never really liked them and i require my music to be infinately more portable - even though my mp3 player is ancient...
What’s Next for Google
This 9 page article written by Charles Ferguson, offers few secrets but presents historic and recent knowledge in a very interesting light. This was a good reminder of how the individual bits of information fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. It provide insights on the people involved, technologies being used, search landscape, current trends and possible futures.
Apple Bites The Fans That Feed It
You really do have to wonder what the hell Apple think they're playing at - It's tough to imagine a more stupid scenario: Tech stories leak (as always) - bloggers blog it - massive hype is created - share prices go up - apple looks even cooler - apple fucks it up and sues the bloggers - WHAT?
But, this sort of stuff happens all the time in the tech industry. Sources leak details of forthcoming products to reporters whose motivation is to get credit for an exclusive story. Here's the difference with Apple: most of its secret product news is not published first by national, mainstream media, but by Apple advocates. These people are customers, fans and Apple-lovers.
This community gives Apple untold free--and mostly positive--publicity and buzz about upcoming products and strategies. They salivate over every upgrade. This is a pre-iPod gang--people who supported Apple before the second coming of Steve Jobs in 1997. Consider that it was Apple enthusiasts who helped drive the market for the iPod after its 2001 release, despite a widely held perception that the $399 price tag was too high.
What manner of substance abuse is going on over at the (rotten) Apple PR department?
Smartvideo, threadlinked above have launch what they say is the first live TV streaming for mobile today. The story comes in via pct - here's the snippet:
SmartVideo have teamed up with ABC News, NBC Universal and The Weather Channel to deliver a live television service for mobile device users. The service is enabled for most consumers operating over a wireless network, and the SmartVideo library allows for a wide range of programming selections so you can choose what to watch, and when to watch it. It has been optimised to deliver a high-quality service at a minimum of 15 frames per second.
Vonage launches VoIP in the UK
Good news (perhaps..) for the UK'ers...
Vonage provides a phone adapter/router, which converts analogue signals to digital signals which then plugs into a broadband connection. A standard telephone can then be plugged into the adapter so that when a call is made or received the signal is converted to digital and routed through a high-speed DSL or cable modem across the internet and back through a traditional phone network to the receiver’s phone.
Im working on a Skype setup personally but cheap calls are cheap calls right?
The first client of BURST Media's new blog channel was Kyocera - they will be launching an advergame via tech blogs such as Screenhead and Gizmodo according to the adverblog post threadlinked above.
I really like the idea of advergames, i've played a few and think that, providing they're done well of course, they're a damn site more engaging than much else and for companies like Kyocera are most likely a great move. Pop a few ads in the right spots and watch it go viral.. nice!
Google announces change in AdWords affiliate policy
So, i wake up this morning to find that the Search blogs are abuzz with the news that Googles long rumoured change to Affilate Adword policy has been announced whilst i slept.
Forrester's Charlene Li, threadlinked above, along with Andrew Goodman and Aaron Wall have the most informative posts i beleive. Let's look at what Charlene had to say first:
The affiliates that highly productive -- or are willing to pay a significantly higher rate to offset lower clickthrough rates -- will appear. An advertiser who doesn’t have a high ad rank can unseat the current advertiser only by increasing its maximum CPC rate. This is because it can’t increase the clickthrough rate for that keyword because its ad isn’t being shown anymore. The affiliate that does appear must continually ensure a high clickthrough rate and/or increase the maximum CPC to keep other affiliates from appearing.
+ Parent retailers could be beaten out of paid search by their own affiliates, especially if those affiliates are more targeted in their ad description, and thus get better clickthroughs. Salar rationalized that even if the retailer is bumped out, it would still benefit from the affiliate getting the sale, but it will be cold comfort to a product manager who’s being measured on search visibility. One additional benefit to the parent retailer -- to justify higher maximum CPCs, affiliates will have to increase their conversion rates, which will benefit the parent retailers.