Saturday, September 12, 2009

#ihatewhengirlssay "that didn't take long"

Interesting to watch "tweetalanches" happen... and where/when they get started. For example, today at 10am, "#ihatewhengirlssay" was not a hashtag with any tweets. At the moment .... a few hundred. It should be interesting to see how much "damage" it causes before the dust settles. The whole things reminds of Scott Adams' "Avatar" concept/character in his most excellent books: God's Debris and Religion War (no relation to James Cameron's upcoming movie).

#ihatewhengirlsay "Twitter's going to make tons of money."

It will... for the founders.
No one else will make anything....

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Comcast, Time Warner, and TVEverywhere

Comcast and Time Warner jointly announced the "TV Everywhere" initiative - much to the very vocal derision of blogs, pundits, and digital heads everywhere :)

The root of the announcement is, of course, that premium programming content will be available online, at no incremental cost to consumers (what marketers like to call "free" :)).

Hard to see why this is a bad thing - but there are lots of big words, like "anti-competitive" and "anti-consumer", being bandied about, so let's try to deconstruct the questions being asked a bit. Note that opinions expressed here, as always, are strictly my own.

1) Should content producers allowed to charge for access to their content?
I think the answer to that is "yes". There are some fair questions about who they charge, and how, and is there pricing collusion, etc. - but I don't think anyone means to imply that advertising is the ONLY model that content producers should be able to use?

2) Doesn't "TV Everywhere" depart from the Hulu model?
So... broadcasters (NBC, ABC, Fox, et al) ALREADY make the content available for free (over-the-air) - and they monetize with advertising. The "Hulu model" was to take the same business model, and make it available online. I don't mean to parse semantics here, but... kinda sounds like the same idea here: make content available wherever consumers are, using a model that is already working for consumers. Like Hulu, this isn't a new business - its a new distribution channel.

Hmm - not sure I follow this one. "TV Everywhere" is not exclusive in any way - its simply a way for premium TV producers to get their content to consumers online, and helps identify those who are already paying for the content offline. If the content producers want to make their stuff free - well, it is their content; they're welcome to do so - not sure how this initiative impedes that idea. Yes, NBC, Fox, et al, already make their content available free to consumers (for a limited time window) - but also did so before Hulu.

The Internet is an "all bits are equal" data pipe into the home - and nothing about offering subscription video over the Internet with "TV Everywhere" changes that?

The irony, to me, of posts like Om Malik's (about the "inefficent business model" being propagated here, etc.) is that it sits on the site the same day as a post that reads "Is there a future for original web video shows?"....

There is a fair question here - will the price to consumers of content trend towards zero? And if it does, how will that impact quality (i.e. who's going to want to pay to make the good stuff)?

This program doesn't purport to answer that - mostly its just trying to get more people more convenient access to something they're already paying for.

How horrible! :)

Labels: ,

Monday, June 01, 2009

MS Bing: The more things change...

Microsoft launched their new search engine (Bing) today. Its nice, though, as a friend on Twitter pointed out, it does have that "Microsoft smell".

For instance, Googlewhack has always been a fun past time (find a search term of two words or less, that resolves to one and only one result) - and its fairly tricky to do (check out the site for details) - on Google.

But with Bing.... not so hard! Turns out that searching for a competitve search engine (Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc). is a googlewhack, um, bingwhack.
I'm (pretty) sure that the algorithm is NOT based on that fact - but that it appears so is, well, so Microsoft smelling... try it yourself.


Cue John Hodgman Apple commercial....

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Browser benchmarks: When did they get so stupid?

So, the claim that IE is faster than Firefox, Safari, or Chrome, is ridiculous at many levels (MS claims IE faster than other browsers), and Microsoft was appropriately ridiculed for it.

But so is the idea that you have a test that demonstrates that the new Safari builds are "above 15 times better performance than Internet Explorer 7 in the same system".

Seriously, that's just stupid., and renders the index meaningless.

Why not just multiple the index scores by 10? Then you can claim Safari is 150X faster than IE7.

Without scaling the index into a range that meaningfully communicates (or at least correlates) to user experience (which things like FPS and even 3DMark did for video cards), it renders the testing both invalid and irrelevant.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Comscore v. Hulu: garbage in---garbage out?

Interesting. The New York Times is reporting that Hulu is disputing audience count with Nielsen, stating "While Nielsen reported 8.9 million visitors to Hulu in March, another measurement firm,comScore, counted 42 million. "


Slightly embarassing, but I think that the Times is confusing "Unique Visitors" (how many unique cookies are counted by a site - a reasonable proxy for people visiting the site) with "Unique Viewers" (a syndicated video player concept - how many unique cookies were counted by the syndicated player; a reasonable proxy for the number of viewers who were served video by the site).

In layman's terms, the first number would represent, in our example, the number of people who visited (unique visitors), while the second (unique viewers) would represent how many people watched a Hulu sourced video, whether on Hulu, a third party site (like Fancast), or embedded elsewhere (like on somebody's blog).

A visit to alexa or compete shows the number of "unique visitors" to be comparable to what Nielsen reported (a fact others have noted). And guess what? Even Comscore doesn't put Hulu in the top 50 for April 2009 - which means even Comscore suggests that the number of unique visistors to Hulu is less than 19M (if someone has the actual number, I'd appreciate it).

So... move along... nothing to see here...

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wow - what am I missing?
Pirate bay craziness...
The pirate bay is (was?) a site that holds *links* to torrents.  I'm NOT in anyway in favor of copyright violation or intellectual property theft - but how is this (a) wrong or (b) worthy of the punishment?  ($M in fines, and time in *prison*)??

Its a search engine?  It doesn't hold the content.... perhaps I'm missing something (have to admit I never used it).

Update: hiliarious (and accurate) thepirategoogle (pirate bay using google... duh, its a search engine, just like thepiratebay was)
Update 2: hmm - broken (blocked by google?)
Update 3: An update (tried to find the site owner, but couldn't)... so try this: thepiratebaygoogle on sree


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Boxee v. Hulu: Endgame

For those of you who haven't been following - In this corner: Boxee's a very nice media center type "10 foot" UI for watching video content (local and internet) using your PC/Mac. In the red trunks: Hulu's a "free" browser based video service backed by NBC/Universal and Fox.

Round 1: Boxee's supports Hulu in Boxee and goes from "nice" to "useful/interesting"
Round 2: Hulu asks Boxee to drop Hulu support. Boxee complies.
Round 3: Sort of.  Its not supported out of the box(ee :)), but Boxee lets users manually add Hulu support.
Round 5: Boxee adds a browser.  (Mozilla/Firefox - read through the post)

Now it gets interesting...

So... much like the machinations of ESPN, the real question is why? 

It's not entirely clear to me - and Boxee's end run should bring it to a head;  If I connect a browser to my TV, why shouldn't I be able to play content that works on my PC?  As a practical matter, there's no good way to differentiate (in the medium term - short term hacks might work)

I kind of get the point for the content guys - they want to decide how and where their content gets consumed.  Here's the thing - they may not get that choice: free is free.

(Incidentally this is less of an issue for folks like us than you may think: either way its over our connectivity, and content aqcuisition is a big part of our costs - think it through.  For example, note that Netflix likes streaming - because they charge you a subscription.)

It seems like the issue is that, ultimately, the Internet will erase a huge amount of value (valuation?  perhaps not quite the same thing) from the world.  I'm not arguing about whether that's a good thing or a bad thing - arguably, this was artificial value.  Just saying its so... question is how you adjust.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ESPN makes an... interesting play

I'm surprised there's not been more coverage of ESPN's ISP extortion scheme.  
ESPN's Play To Make ISPs Pay
(from slashdot)

Its kind of interesting - on the one hand, its their site, their content, they should be able to do what they want... on the other hand, well, it seems like deals like this seem like a bad idea on many levels.  I guess the markets will speak on whether this makes sense.

But amusingly, this was also covered on BroadbandReports (see here) - the amusing part is that the article ran with an advertisement (contextually served by our overlords at Google) from, you guessed it, ESPN.  

Karma's a fickle beast.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Twitter, really? You're surprised?

I'm always a bit surprised at the media's surprise of media darlings (to wit: "Twitter's Risk of Ubiquity"). First, we're all lemmings - where "all" especially includes anybody who thinks they are a subject matter expert, analyst, or pundit.

Secondly (specific to this instance), Twitter is Second Life for the "cool" geeks (what's the emoticon for sarcasm?). Which is to say, though not as nerdy as 3D, it is an interesting indicator of future interaction patterns ("follow the alpha geek"). But, its never going to be a interesting business, and the early pioneers will likely not stand the test of time.

An ex-VP of Business Development of one of my endeavors once said "Our goal is to have a business model that you can't disprove in a finite amount of time." (I probably should have listened to him - but that's a story for another day)

So here's my new axiom for the new economy (I'll warn you in advance that its not as pithy as my former colleague's):

If you have a Chief Revenue Officer, you might be a jack-ass.

The business of EVERY business is to make money. Seriously. Its right there in the definition and everything.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Redux: Touch UI and the Art of Intent

Some very interesting research into touch UI from Microsoft Research, University of Toronto, and the good folks at Mitsubishi (MERL's been doing some great work) illustrates how to improve the precision and efficacy of touch screen computing. This isn't strictly a technology problem (touch screens are pretty accurate) - its a human factors problem (an affordance issue).

I wrote on this a while ago - the mouse is pretty accurate, but one of the significant reasons I think it succeeded as an "intuitive" input device was that it created an interface paradigm that allowed "intent".

Touch screens allow us to create programmable input devices (the hardwares becomes "soft" - the rest is just wiring) - I don't think its tactility that's makes it intriguing.

While the article posits that they solve the "fat fingering" problem by allowing the interactive to happen "above" your fingers - that is, you can touch the front *and* back of the screen, I'll posit that its actually the recapturing of *intent* in the interaction flow that makes the difference here.

Judge for yourself:

In any case, pretty cool.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've seen the future!

Not so much.

Microsoft Plans VR Simulation of Everything? (from slashdot)

"Microsoft's research chief has been
promoting the idea of commerce applications and other tools built on top of what he calls the 'Spatial Web', a blend of 3D, video, and location-aware technologies. He gave an example of a shopkeeper creating 3D models of his store's interior and goods with Photosynth and then uploading the results into a large 3D model of local shopping district. Customers could 'visit' the area, browse products, and order them for real-world delivery"

As a colleague of mine once said, quite some time ago:
"Sounds like Doom, without the fun"

(Or... was that me? Can't remember....)

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Review: Best Javascript book EVER.

Douglas Crockford's "Javascript: the Good Parts" - go get it. Its concise, and takes you through the semantics of Javascript from first principles. Unlike most such books, which try to make learning JS easier by over-analogizing to other languages, Doug's book also highlights the differences from the very beginning - building a much better foundation for understanding the language, pros and cons.

Heartilty recommended regardless of your level of sophistication or intimacy with Javascript. At a minimum, you'll come away with a better framework for approaching your web applications. And if you're language geek, you'll just like it.

Plus, its concise.

Probably my favorite programming book since
the red book (level 1, natch).


Monday, November 10, 2008

Practical Joke?

I read this headline on Slashdot:
Halliburton Applies For Patent-Trolling Patent

It's GOT to be joke... see the original article:

Is it April 1 somewhere in the world? *Somebody's* got to be kidding... please?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election '08 (that's a wrap)

"There's no question about it - In the next 40 years a Negro can achieve the same position that my brother had."  - Robert F. Kennedy, 1968.