Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Microsoft offers free Office Online eBook

Katherine Murray, an accomplished author of over 50 books related to Internet technologies and the digital lifestyle, has joined with the Microsoft Office Live team to produce an extensive (304 page) reference to the Online Office product.

Initially launched as a 'Get a website for your business free' product last year, Microsoft Office Live now integrates a variety of online applications, some free, and others by subscription.

The product has improved significantly since we began our simple beta test last year.  More recently, the team has been introducing new features to existing users, as well continually to beta testers.

The book, 'Take Your Business Online', provides a simplified approach to new users, as well as marketing tips and ideas for putting a small business online for the first time.  It also serves as an easy-to-read,  walk-through guide to Microsoft's Online product.

Katherine Murray is the founder of reVisions Plus, Inc. Her 'occasional' blog announced completion of the book in April.

The ebook, a 20 MB download in PDF format, is available free until October 19th, from Microsoft here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Google Page Rank updates begin to appear

SEO specialists and their clients are watching tonight as the anticipated PageRank update by Google is now beginning to appear.

I was going to do a quick rundown of some of the websites and blogs I follow and their new PR here,  but I'm not sure I'm seeing all of them yet, so that would be a little misleading.

PageRank was the original 'formula', developed in the very beginning (In fact, the trademark belongs to Stanford University and Google purchased the exclusive rights).

It's very important to recognize that PageRank is now just one part of a complex algorithm that Google uses to determine where a website lands in the SERPs (Search Engine Relative Positions).

While it's amusing to see what your new PR is, it's a mistake to fixate on it.  There are many websites that rank in the Top-5 for specific search terms (or phrases) that have PageRanks of 4 or less.

Google's latest toolbar is the easiest (and most accurate) way to surf and check PageRank at the same time. 

No doubt, if you follow the SEO space, you'll read a lot of  "My PageRank went up" and "My PageRank went down". 

Unless you go from a 6 to a zero, don't lose too much sleep over it :)

LinkedIn, WikiMetro, and yes, Friendfeed

I've done more than a few posts on brand and / or 'Reputation Management'.
I've also done more than a few on Wikipedia.

Read on ... It may effect YOU.

Recently, I've become a little more active on LinkedIn.  I like it.  It's been a good vehicle for me in numerous ways, and I like to follow online sites that I feel strongly will be around for a while. LinkedIn is in that group.

Possibly the place I've been the most active for the past 4 months is Friendfeed, where I feel that the founders' vision is strong, and I have enjoyed a community of smart, interesting, and just fun people to interact with.

This blog has been scraped almost from inception. (Long before the Louis Gray, Mike Fruchter, Inquisitr, Robert Scoble, and other lists). It never really bothered me. All one has to do is wander over to Technorati.  About 25% of 'authority', which I've never really concentrated on for this blog, is coming from sites that scrape it's content.

That brings us to today's fascinating find.

Apparently my twin has reappeared in upstate New York!

A site called Wiki Metro has me listed as the CEO of US Airways, residing in Buffalo NY. Neat huh?  Buddy Passes?

WikiMetro appears to be a LinkedIn-type site, but publicly edited.  It also REQUIRES your Friendfeed ID to join which had me wondering.  I did join briefly to make a little note on the page .... and e-mail the CEO.

I may not be the chief executive of a major airline (and that may be a good thing?), but I'm pretty proud of what I do here and elsewhere, and unless someone legally changed their name, there is only one me.

This is just another little amuzing heads up on the human-edited community (and possibly for the people at LinkedIn and Friendfeed).

So here I am, flyin' around upstate.  Feel free to send the paycheck (I'll pass on the stock options)

Maybe I'll post a bio to Knol ?? :)

Have a GREAT WEEK to all.....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Googley Stuff - Google News in the wild

Google appears to be testing a new layout for Google News.  This screenshot, captured earlier tonight, not has a new layout, but the drop-down box allowed visibility to a slew of versions from different countries.  It was only visible on one of my IP's and disappeared rather quickly ?!

Picasa 3 (beta) has released a significant upgrade which will auto-update if you have the Google Updater installed.  (It's MUCH better and has even more features).  Details can be found here.
Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

Brief: Firefox updates the update !

Mozilla just released Firefox 3.0.3 which fixes a bug in the new version featured earlier in the week here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

CCleaner updated to include Google's Chrome

CCleaner, the handy, small, and free system utility featured here numerous times in our 'Free Stuff to play with over the weekend' feature, is out with a new version.

If you've never used it, CCleaner is a lightweight (adware and spyware free) utility that lets you delete your cache, temp files, cookies and more 'gunk' fast, with a couple of mouse clicks (Sometimes gigabytes worth!).  It also has a decent registry analyzer and fixer on board which lets you back up before repairing.

(Note:  If you don't want a Yahoo! toolbar or automatic updates, you can opt out during the installation.  Upgrades can be performed by simply installing the newest version over the old one).

Version 2.12 released yesterday impliments these changes:
Added Google Chrome support.
- Improved cleaning security checks.
- Improved recursive cleaning functions.
- Fixed bug in INI FileKey evaluation routine.
- Updated INI file processing engine.
- Improved system info checks for modern CPUs.
- Various language and translation improvements.
- Minor GUI tweaks.

You can download a copy of CCleaner here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blogger lets you share your blogs

Introduced a couple of weeks ago, Blogger is now letting you 'follow' (and share) other blogs directly on your sign-in profile screen.

(Click image to enlarge)

I'm not sure whether to call this a social network, an aggregator, or just a cool tool to let you see what others are saying before you post?

I originally thought it was Blogger-specific when it was first announced and held off trying it.  It's not.  You can add any RSS feed to the list, and the step-by-step interface makes it simple.  (Very simple).  You could, if you wanted, add your entire reader list (although I think for most that would be impractical).

This blog is produced in Blogger so I see that page each time I update.  I can think of a lot of possibilities utilizing this moving forward.

To try it out, all you need is a Blogger profile and simply go to the main page or draft.blogger.com.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Microsoft takes I'm a PC to the next level

Last week, Microsoft subtly launched this page which allows you to submit your own video telling why 'you're a PC'.

Starting today, visitors to MSN.com will see a collage of people that submitted their own videos surrounding the MSN home page.

Clicking on any of them will play the selected video in the MSN front page ad box.

After the first few plays, it wears a little, but luckily you can turn it off (upper right).

Are you a PC? 

Assuming this runs for a while (It was live at 12 AM ET), just go to MSN.com to check it out.

As for me, I think the next video is headed for Seesmic :)


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mozilla upgrades Firefox Version 3 to 3.0.2

Earlier this afternoon, Mozilla upgraded both Firefox 3 and it's predecessor Firefox 2.

The latest version of Firefox 3 is now 3.0.2 and Firefox 2 is now

If your browser isn't set to automatically update (or just hasn't yet ... ), simply tap 'Help' (at the top) then 'check for updates', and follow the instructions.

While Mozilla is now urging users to upgrade from Version 2 to Version 3, they are still supporting the older technology browser.

Included in the latest release are numerous security and stability fixes, a variety of new languages, better rendering of some web pages, as well as some Mac OS X specific issues.

Firefox is been steadily gaining ground as the second most used web browser next to Microsoft's Internet Explorer over the past two years, and continues to be a favorite among the 'blogging' and tech communities.

The full (free) install of Firefox 3.0.2 (for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux) can be found here.

NY Times gets social with Times People

Fans of the NY Times will welcome this morning's online edition.

The newspaper has added, yes, an integral on-site social network for you to interact with other readers and comment on articles.

Dubbed 'Times People', the new social network is aimed at connecting readers of the NY times and engaging them in the newspaper's content.

We've seen quite a few cross-media plays in social and microblogging circles the past few weeks.  It'll be interesting to see how the NY Times does with this new addition.

The new 'Times People' section is now live and can be accessed here.

Launched just in time for breakfast - Delish.com

New website is all about food!

Looking for an awesome recipe?  Need to mix a cocktail? Have a favorite food-related TV personality?

Delish.com is a new website with popular food TV shows, food festivals, recipes (on top of recipes!), food-related blogs and more.

A joint venture of Hearst Magazines Digital Media and Microsoft's MSN, the site already has numerous advertisers onboard.

Delish can be reached at www.delish.com, www.msn.delish.com, or via MSN's home page.

Hungry?  ..... Maybe you should wait until after you eat before you check it out :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Microsoft Research New England Facility Opens

Microsoft Research Cambridge facility officially opens.

We first covered Microsoft Research's plans to open a state-of-the-art research facility back in February.

Microsoft officially announced the opening of the new facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts today.

An inaugural symposium was held as well, hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"Microsoft Research New England was founded this past July by Managing Director Jennifer Chayes, Ph.D., and Deputy Managing Director Christian Borgs, Ph.D., with a charter to build on Microsoft Corp.’s commitment to advancing the state of the art in computing".

You can discover more about the new facility and find out more about Microsoft Research at their website here.

The Network Monitor for the rest of us is here

Over the years, there have been numerous freeware and commercial network monitoring software packages available.  Many 'techs' prefer command line utilities in Windows, OS X or Linux to keep an eye on network traffic.  Others simply ignore it or don't know how to access it.

What is really being sent over your network?

Is there something (or someone) that shouldn't be there?

The Network Monitor for the rest of us is here.  (or ....now you can see what you ISP sees ? :)

Last week, Microsoft posted Network Monitor 3.2 to the MS Download Center and it will be offered soon  as an optional download via Microsoft Update (Windows update).

Think you have spyware?  You'll now know with a few mouse clicks.

The small Windows utility literally walks you though the first steps of starting and stopping network monitoring and enables 'captures' over long periods of time. (Of course, longer periods of time will require more memory and hard disk space).

The stand-out feature of this latest (free) version is for those that aren't totally 'tech savvy'.  They'll be able to install it, start and stop it, or just turn it off, without having to use the command line at all.

For small network administrators, it's a simply yet versatile tool.

Network Monitor 3.2 is available for XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008 with both 32 and 64 bit versions available.  Complete details with screen shots can be found on the Microsoft TechNet NetMon blog here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Latest upgrade to Twhirl rocks !

Late Friday, a new version of the popular desktop client Twirl was released.

If you had the latest version, you were probably auto-updated.  If you didn't, you may not have been.

I've had Twhirl 0.8.6 running nicely in the background on both the XP and Vista boxes for the past few hours. 

One word.  Nice!

Twirl now lets you access Twitter, Friendfeed, Identi.ca, Seesmic and also has generic support for the Laconi.ca platform that powers Identi.ca.

The latest version also fixes a few problems created when Twitter changed their API.

Open all the windows at once and ... watch the 'micro world' go by!

This is a really sweet update.  Be sure and check it out.  (It works on OS X too!)

Kudos to Marco, Loic and the Seesmic team on this desktop app.  It's a winner.

You can download Twhirl at their website or check out the latest features on the Twhirl blog here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What did he say? - Newsflashr and Spy revisited

In this new and continuously evolving chapter of microblogging and lifestreaming, it's becoming increasing difficult to track what people you 'follow' are saying .... and at times, ... what you've said?!

Over the past few days, I've revisited both Newsflashr and Ben Hedrington's 'Spy'

At first glance, Newsflashr appears like any other searchable aggregator.  Try a vanity search.  IE:  Search your own name.  If you do any writing, blogging, commenting, 'liking', etc, I can almost guarantee you'll get a few surprises.  I said what?

Ben Hedrington is watching everybody.  There's just no doubt about it.  I sent a Twitter to Sarah Perez a few weeks ago (Sarah writes for RWW, Channel 10, and others), and Ben picked it up in a heartbeat.  Literally. Why?  I was talking about his (pretty neat) Google App Engine powered 'Spy'.

Spy is really amazing.  An almost real-time view of what you (or anyone else) is saying with a unique graphical display.  It's a 'must try'.

There are a few commercial Buzz Tracking Tools and/or Reputation Monitoring programs out there that are more comprehensive such as Andy Beal's Trackur

More suited to business (or politics??), the commercial entities do a good job and are evolving as well.

Give Newsflashr and Spy a fresh spin.  The cool stuff just keeps on coming. 


Have a GREAT weekend all!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Twitter launches new look !

Twitter's sporting a new look tonight.

Since MOST users access Twitter via an API, many haven't noticed that they too have launched a 'new look and feel' today on the direct website, and it's just the beginning.

For now, mostly cosmetic changes, but Ajax is soon to be deployed for faster speed.

Other upcoming changes include more customization and more.

Twitter is seeking YOUR input on the Twitter Blog .

With Blog World Expo upon us, something tells me we're going to see more of these announcements.

Brief: Friendfeed Beta is now Friendfeed!

On Tuesday, I ran down a number of improvements that had just been introduced by Friendfeed.

A few hours ago, just prior to Blog World Expo (nice move guys :), the 'cut over' decision was made, and those visiting the regular URL are now seeing the all-new Friendfeed.

Tuesday's piece with numerous links is here, and of course, you can check out Friendfeed here.

To my friends out at Blog World, have a great time in LV!

Update: The newest features have been posted by Bret Taylor to the Friendfeed blog here.

Lots of Bloggers - Blog World and New Media Expo

If last year is any indication, the halls will be filled as Blog World Expo rolls into Vegas over the next few days.

Some workshops will be held tomorrow and the Expo will run Sept 20 and 21st at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Over 200 speakers will be on hand for keynotes and conferences. 

The official website now has links to ongoing coverage, and of course ....
.... there will be more than a few bloggers 'live blogging' the event.

The Blog World and New Media Expo official website (with much more) can be found here.

September is redesign month!

It's called 'legacy migration'.

When a website or blog employs newer technologies to enhance the user experience, and, in the larger picture, hopefully gain a larger market share.

This month, some of the largest websites (and many of the oldest) have introduced wholesale web redesigns.

CNET, one of the first 'mega' websites on the Internet, has an all-new look.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal launched their new look, and yes, Yahoo! is testing yet another new version of their home page as well. (Note: Not all users will see the Yahoo! changes yet).

Many are employing newer content management software to drive fresh, up-to-date, any yes, search engine friendly content .... while introducing what they perceive to be new, more interactive layouts.

"Hey Google, take another look over here.  It works now!" 

Almost everyone is 'going social' if they haven't already .... with the 'hope' their product will become sticky (retain users).

In the Web 2.0 sphere, TechCrunch, Mashable, Facebook, and numerous others have redesigned as well.

The question becomes ... Will any of this work?

Facebook got hit with a HUGE petition on their own network that delayed the 'permanent' switchover.  User habits are hard to break.

With RSS feed readers now in use by many busy people and offsite commenting (IE:  Disqus and Friendfeed) becoming more common, the landscape is changing....and fast.  It's only a matter of time before this becomes much more mainstream.

In a recent poll, I asked the question 'What is your start-up page set to'.  Although it was more of a tech and early adopter audience, over 100 responded, and the answers were surprising (at least to me).

While I have always felt more than half your audience should come from 'search', I ran a two week test on the social networks this month as well.  Unique visitors to this blog (not RSS subscriptions) tripled and that was with a very mild amount of bookmarking (and sharing) across 5 of the primary off-site social networks.

'Professional social marketers' KNOW .... every channel hits a different audience. Why create your own?

The web is more dynamic than ever.  I call it 'hyper dynamic'.    It has to be confusing to even the best of marketers right now.

Will any of these changes bring new users that come back in significant numbers?

With THOUSANDS of brand new blogs, new ventures, and websites hitting the Internet globally each day, it's very likely that these redesigns, that while they're 'pretty' and 'more sale able', this will pass as fast as the wind.

What will work?

Direct user engagement, on other sites, microblogging and lifestreaming (and the new multi-media engagement we're seeing in it's very early stages now for larger companies).

Delivering a product that delivers on a consistent basis (and/or provides real value) is still the key.  Make it easy for people to interact, and if at all possible, let them know they're being heard.

On-site comments to many Internet marketing professionals has already been relegated to linkbait.  How many times have you gone back to a blog or website to see if someone commented on your comment??  Think about it.

The mad rush back to Twitter is a great example.  If you can't answer on the moment on Twitter (or Friendfeed), it's considered OK.  You're engaging a new and growing audience, still limited somewhat in scope, but not for long.

It's not enough to 'partner' or even buy companies anymore.  Want page views?  Put 'direct interactivity'  on your list.  People want to know your listening.

What still works from 'the old school'?  Babies, Pets, and yes, Sexy people.

Update: With thanks to the 50 or so of you that immediately reminded me it's September, not August  (It's been a long week :) Fixed!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Foxit PDF Reader updated

Foxit Software today released version 2.3 build 3309 of their popular (and lightweight) PDF reader plug-in for Windows.

Version 2.3 adds new features and is still 'free for home use'.  The latest build issued a short time ago is an important bug fix.

Details on Foxit, their other products, and today's updated download can be found at the company's website here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Friendfeed - The Beta gets Better (and closer!)

Friendfeed has rolled out a few more features today as well as addressing numerous 'user recommended' changes to the still experimental beta test format launched in late August.

While Friendfeed is alive and well (and growing) at www.friendfeed.com, the newer features can be accessed by any Friendfeed user at beta.friendfeed.com.

The experimental beta URL has been a testing ground for a variety of improvements and mostly user requests, as well as to facilitate better navigation (personal categories) and more.  Many issues have been addressed in posts by FF staff members almost in real time ..... impressive.

Friendfeed expects to take the newer, easier to use format to the main URL 'very soon' and continues to respond to (reasonable) requests in the Friendfeed Beta room (No A-list pass necessary :).

I've had only one complaint about Friendfeed since the original launch.

I spend way too much time there.

The platform has now attracted a mix of interesting, smart, fun (and yes, a few crazy) people.  What else could you ask for ? 

As far as this guy's concerned (at at times, I've been concerned), Friendfeed is continuing down the right path.

Check out the Beta.  See what YOU think.  Join me if you like here.  Spread the word.

PS:  A little warning.  While Saturday Night Live may have gotten a little one-week blip that past week, Saturday Night on Friendfeed is 'the new deal' :)

Microsoft releases new build of Pro Photo Tools

Microsoft has released version 2.2 of Pro Photo Tools, the company's popular (and free) photo metadata editor.

Version 2.2 has support for 64-bit systems, improved geotagging, support for XMP, as well as interfacing with Microsoft's Live.com local.

This release adds several new features while providing the tools to perform common tasks, such as embedding photo keywords, author, time and date, etc.

Google, Yahoo, and Live.com have all been hard at work with image search, and while geotagging has helped in many cases, this simple tool can embed and augment the labels and keywords already available on many online galleries.

In addition, Microsoft is inviting your feedback.

You can download the latest build of Microsoft Pro Photo Tools 2 from the Microsoft Download Center or the Microsoft Professional Photography homepage.

edit 10 AM ET

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hi. We're Yahoo! (and we're, very much, still here).

Ever since the unsuccessful takeover attempt of Yahoo! by Microsoft, it seems many of us (including myself) have been devoting a lot of coverage to Google and Microsoft, but not quite as much to Yahoo!.

In the meantime, Yahoo! has been far from sitting idly by.  In fact, they continued to innovate throughout the takeover attempt, and still are.
First:  Search.  The Yahoo! Search blog reported last week they were about to 'make some adjustments'.  Yahoo!'s search team calls it their 'weather report', and this time they're inviting community participation.

The first reports are trickling into my e-mail tonight, and apparently some of you are starting to notice changes in the Yahoo! index already.  Will it be more relevant?  Will it help YOU?  It all remains to be seen but it's still good to see it happening.  Whether you're Google, Yahoo!, or MSN, it's getting more difficult every day to separate the spam from the real stuff ..... and especially to get the valid responses into the Top-10.  No doubt, part of the reason all three (and others) have been engaging in web developer interaction.

In recent months, Yahoo! has delivered an all-new delicious. (Less the 'periods' that people are still typing in??!!).   They delivered a significant upgrade to MyBlogLog, and were responsive to suggestions and /or criticism.  Yahoo News introduced a numbers of initiatives, including breaking news and numerous content partners, and yes, citizen journalism.  Shine (Fashion and Beauty), OMG (Celeb gossip), Zimbra, lots of ther content betas ... and yes, Yahoo Video arrived, got buggy, and now works.

Of course, the most recent beta change, is appearing on what possibly is, their most popular property, Flickr.

There's a lot more in the Yahoo! portfolio.

I, for one, will be very interested to see where they go from here.

After fighting off a hostile takeover attempt by Microsoft, this is one guy that isn't ruling anything out from Sunnyvale.

Update Sept 18 AM:  Kara Swisher at AllThingsD is reporting an all-new look for Yahoo! tomorrow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Speed up Vista without spending a dime

No, this piece isn't about some magical new free software (I only do those on Fridays :), or removing the 'bloat' that manufacturers load on to your hard drive. 

It's about Vista SP1 and why it's time for you to take another look at your computer.

Back in August, I wrote this piece describing some frustration with, what I thought was, a GREAT deal on a laptop .... until I found out it maxed out at 2 GB and Vista was slow!  I went on to describe how I got past the RAM block, and Rick R from Microsoft was good enough to chime in, in the comments.

Well, Rick.  You weren't kidding.

In my spare time (????), I wandered over to the OEM's site yesterday.  There were not only FIVE firmware upgrades since the last one, but also new drivers, and they were all specific to Vista SP1.

(Note to non-techies: Flashing a bios can be (VERY) hazardous to your computers health).

Admittedly (and somewhat strangely), the downloads weren't on the US site. They were on the manufacturer's Euro site.  (Not entirely unusual for this OEM ... and a few others on their Taiwan websites).

I quickly loaded up Belarc and FreshDiagnose to see which goodies were in the box then proceeded with the bios firmware and 4 software upgrades, one at a time, re-booting each time.

(I hold my breath anytime I do firmware.  This one was perfect!)

Results:  Graphics rendering faster.  Internet throughput faster.  More options in the bios.  ReadyBoost 'seems' to work even better.  Better benchmarks ACROSS the board, and, with absolutely no changes in start-up programs, less CPU and Memory overhead.

Not bad?

Manufacturers and integral parts makers are issuing drivers all the time.  Vista has been (admittedly) slow in getting  to the 'best of' level.

Software upgrades are issued pretty often too, usually free.  Have you checked yours?

Sidenote: It's usually much easier to find new firmware and drivers for newer hardware.  Be VERY cautious with any of the third-party sites.  More than half are ridden with malware.  Either use Microsoft or the OEM's site if at all possible!

What I found interesting was that ALL of these were Vista Service Pack 1 specific. 

The best part is ... they worked!

So to Rick R in the Microsoft Windows Vista Outreach Team.  Nice job. 

CoolIris (PicLens) and Firebug - Significant Upgrades

Over the weekend both CoolIris (formerly Piclens) and Firebug for Firefox both issued significant updates.

CoolIris has been featured here numerous times.  If you want to surf photos and videos across the web,  there's simply nothing like it.  

Firebug is an open source Firefox add-on which allows you to, on the fly, view source code, execute javascript, monitor network activity, and more. All immediately, while viewing the page in the Internet.

You don't have to be a techie to fall for CoolIris.  If you are viewing a CoolIris 'enabled' website, it grabs and displays the images in a variety of ways, 3D style across your screen instantly. If you're not on a CoolIris specific site, the integrated search and the discover features deliver a collage of photos and videos by keyword or category (with a good chance you've never seen many of them before).  Move them around and zoom in and out with your mouse.

Firebug keeps the developer in mind.  Script error on a page?  Firebug will isolate it in a heartbeat.  The latest version shoots a few bugs and adds features.  Potentially, one of the most popular Firefox extensions for 'coders'.

If you haven't visited either of these programs since Firefox went to 3.0.1, they're well worth another look.

I seriously doubt you'll be offloading them anytime soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More on Comcast and Bandwidth Caps

It seemed like the world was coming to an end last week when Comcast announced they would start capping monthly Internet use at 250GB.  Comcast was one of the first providers in the US to introduce widespread 20 MB plus residential connections.  Since that time, Verizon, Cablevision, and many others have 'lit' the new fiber and competition in major Metro areas is ongoing.

Relatively new flexible fiber is now becoming cost-effective, making it viable to rewire entire office and apartment buildings, raising the bandwidth possibilities dramatically.

The only piece I read that put the numbers in perspective was written by Duncan Riley at the Inquisitr.

I started giving it some thought over the past few days.

Could Comcast be trying to protect their (highly profitable) cable franchise?

As more and more TV programs (in HD) begin to appear on the Internet, and so-called Media Center PC's and/or Apple TV move into the marketplace, will more people watch TV on their computers?

I find myself on sites such as Hulu and CBS HD often (In fact, as I'm typing this, I'm watching hurricane coverage from Houston in full-screen HD from KHOU.com in another tab).

I haven't crunched the numbers but live HD TV over IP has to be pretty big if you do it all the time?

If networks around the world continue to put programming online, not only could the cable companies see people downsize their programming packages, but DVR's could be rendered obsolete as well. 

Will the satellite TV providers feel the heat as well?

It'll be interesting to watch this next chapter evolve.

Have a GREAT weekend everyone.

To my friends in Houston and that region, please, stay safe.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lifestreaming is just the beginning

I'll qualify this piece briefly by saying that I feel strongly that organic 'Search' is still No.1 for most websites or blogs to reach a target audience. Target ad buying is second for most marketing campaigns on the Internet, and there's more places than ever to do it potentially suited for YOUR target audience.

I've read a lot lately about bloggers having a hard time monetizing or losing readers RSS feeds.  Some are just getting started, many have been around a long time, while still others are 'Net Vets' starting new ventures.

While there are many ways to build an audience, the most recent 'experiment' to achieving my own personal goals has been to 'cross-platform', starting in the space where I'm the most active as a launchpad.

It's no secret, I'm a huge Friendfeed fan.  I'm there several times a day. I find it entertaining, interesting,  informative, thought provoking and just fun .... and the new beta finally lets me 'turn up the noise' a little (IE: Find new people).

I visit all the major social networks during the course of a week, and yes, they're all getting even more social.  The reason is obvious (and the competition healthy).  They all want you to make them number one. 

Those who've read this blog for a while know I just don't keep any secrets.  If I find something neat that works, I pass it on.

I did a little research this week.  I really like doing my own research and testing, and for lack of a better way of putting it, leading and not following.  Things just change too dynamically on the 'Net. 

Yesterday's big thing is tomorrow's old news.

Like many, I got a little put-out when Facebook firmly decided to move to their new format this week.  I needed more time.  I later changed my mind after giving it a good run and wrote about it here. (Incidentally, the petition to delay the change won, and Facebook has confirmed it's giving users more time to get used to the new format).

People tend to highlight almost every social network except Facebook.  The reality is that Facebook is HUGE and the changes are positive and interactiveFacebook still has the potential to be one of the biggest IPO's in tech history (if it even gets that far .... before someone buys them).

My activity on Friendfeed automatically translates to Twitter followers.  Facebook too.  I enjoy it because my scope continues to broaden into new spaces, and a world of opinions (and yes, unfortunately, a few spammers?!).  The friend or follow requests come.  I do look at their stuff, and 9 times out of ten, I green light them.

This week it was time to re-visit sites I had ignored for a while and I decided that for my immediate purposes, LinkedIn would be a primary target.  It had changed a lot since I last visited (for the better).  My network was old and small.  My profile was completely outdated.

I made a simple post to Friendfeed, a brief note on Twitter, imported my Gmail contacts and had an active and decent showing in less than a day.

One of the highlights was the same thing that had happened when I first started using Friendfeed.  I discovered someone I hadn't spoken to in years, and that was, well, just cool.  A good friend.

I am not a 'professional social networker'.  I have no desire at all to visit 29 (or 40?) networks every day.

I want my Internet to be informative, thought provoking, profitable, and fun .... (and still have time to visit 'the real world' once in a while :)

The point?  Start where you are the most active.  Chances are, people have grown to 'follow' you, hopefully respect you, and will answer a simple request.  When you cross over into the next space, you may just find people that you've never heard of ..... but could be your next best friend or ....

..... your next big client.

Edited 9 AM ET Sept 12 cba

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shhhh! Flickr is testing a new look

Well, I guess it's a little overdue that I mention a Yahoo product and this news just fell in my lap (??!!) so I'm passing it along ..... so a few of you can have a little fun. 

Talk about a 'soft launch'?

Go to your Flickr home page (logged in).

Scroll to the bottom.

Crank up your speakers.


See what you think.


Microsoft says Ciao to Greenfield's ISS business

It was less than two weeks ago that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced the acquisition of Greenfield Online (NASDAQ: SRVY) with a cash tender for $17.50 per share.

The deal is set to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Microsoft had made it clear they would most likely sell Greenfield's ISS business while retaining their European Shopping comparison network Ciao GmbH, to bolster Live.com's offering in Europe.

This morning, Microsoft named the buyer.

ZM Capital LP, a private equity partnership with offices in New York and Los Angeles, will acquire the ISS portion of Greenfield and intends to continue operating it as a stand alone company.

The deal is subject to approvals and a 'financial contingency'.  It would be ZM Capital's initial investment and is being financed by a group including NewStar Financial, CIT, with Veronis Suhler Stevenson’s Structured Capital fund.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The factual scoop on the new Googlites (Google Satellites).

The past few days, talk has centered around the satellite that launched and successfully reached orbit Monday, and will provide the highest resolution space-based imagery of the earth in history,

GeoEye-1 in fact, is not owned by Google, but Google does have exclusive rights to the images for use in Google Earth and Google Maps.

The satellite is owned by publicly traded GeoEye (NASDAQ: GEOY) and provides data to the National Security Community, Strategic Partners, Resellers, and commercial companies. The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was said to have been a participant in the funding of this latest venture (and Google's Founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin were on hand for the launch).

Be sure and check-out the website above which now includes footage of the launch and more.

More Googlites?

Google needs more than pictures to stay ahead of the curve. Last year, reports surfaced that Google was buying up 'dark fiber', essentially unused fiber left behind by past cable and other ventures. Then there were confirmed investments in undersea cabling, and, as recently as this week, there were news stories about Google's looking into sea-based server facilities (It's a lot cooler down there! :).

Now comes a confirmed investment in a Channel Islands based company, O3b Networks, who are building a network of 16 low-earth orbiting data satellites.

Privately-held 03b Networks has 3 primary investors. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Liberty Global (NASDAQ: LBTYA), and HSBC Principle Investments (NYSE: HBC).

For those who may be wondering, Liberty Global is controlled by billionaire investor John Malone who's Liberty Media was recently in the news for it's acquisition of DirecTv (from News Corp) among other well-known projects including QVC and many other media and internet holdings. Liberty Global provides cable, telephone and Internet services to 16 million customers worldwide.

03b was founded by entrepreneur Greg Wyler with the mission of "making the Internet accessable and afforable to billions of people in emerging and developing markets". 3G deployment pioneer John W. Dick serves as Chairman of the company.

"The O3b Networks system will offer fiber performance over satellite, at prices comparable to fiber in developed regions. By allowing direct connection to core networks and 3G Cellular/WiMAX towers, the O3b Networks system will completely change the economics of telecommunications infrastructure in the world’s fastest-growing markets for communications services."

The contract for 16 low-earth orbit satellites was let to Thales Alenia Space, the French aerospace group and will sport 2300 transponder equivalents, and could be in operation as early as 2010.

The three partners are currently investing 20 million dollars (US) each and have reserved the right to invest additional funds as well as bring in additional partners. Allen and Company, the boutique investment bank in New York (no relation to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) has contributed a smaller stake.

The anticipated total cost of this initial project is 750 million dollars (US).

You have to wonder what Bill Gates, Paul Allen and others are thinking right now. Remember Teledesic?

Update (Sept 11 AM): Google has posted additional information to the Google Public Policy blog.

Update Tuesday - Another Whopper

For those that keep Windows Update (or Microsoft Update) turned off, numerous updates were released by Microsoft a short time ago, effecting Vista, Windows XP, Office XP, Office 2007 as well as other platforms.

While most were security updates as well as the September malicious software update, there were other operating system patches issued as well.  Vista users will probably notice the most (In my case, 16 MB of 'new stuff' on the Vista boxes and slightly less on the XP3 box).

Just a passing reminder, as few of these patches are important (ie: marked 'critical'), and more and more of you seem to be turning off all web-aware software to facilitate enterprise deployment or for other reasons.

Drop by Microsoft Update tonight and tomorrow.  The updates are now available.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Twitter to get TV buzz from CNN ... again

At 3 PM ET today, CNN's Rick Sanchez is doing a 'new Twitter show' according to a 'tweet' captured by blogger Craig Stoltz.

Numerous prominent bloggers in recent weeks have noted CNN's fascination with Twitter which seemed to coincide with inteviews done at the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Sanchez, Anderson Cooper, and several other CNN anchors and staffers have been posting to the service ever since.

For over a year, man bloggers have written prices about 'Twitter' breaking news.  Some agree while others discounted the stories, while ....

Almost every major news service has been engaging in user contributions or 'Citizen Journalism', both locally and worldwide. 

CNN's portal for citizen journalism is iReport.

Twitter and Friendfeed did actually break a story just last week., (which turned out to be minor by California standards).  At least 100 people posted to the two services during the event.  The 4.0 earthquake, in the heart of Silicon Valley, was reported 7 minutes later by the USGS seismic websites.

Twitter is the micro-blogging 'darling' of the tech crowd, despite a series of overload outages that caused many to predict the end of the start-up earlier this year. 

Since that time Twitter has seen large (massive) private equity investments, the most significant of which was recently led by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.

Twitter's uptime has been improving, and in recent weeks very significantly, and many who said they would 'never use the service again'  .... seem to be back.  Others are embracing similar services (like identi.ca) or going directly to Friendfeed, which aggregates over 40 different services while allowing real-time  direct interation as well.

Is convergence of the mainstream here?  I doubt that chapter has even begun to be written yet.

Zillow launches Advertising Network - Updated

The venture capital-backed real estate portal Zillow will be forming a partnership with 11 newspaper companies to cooperatively sell advertising space across each others 'networks'.  

Mentioned among the participating companies are Hearst Newspapers, Media General, and EW Scripps.

Zillow, has been testing different avenues to monetize while continuing to innovate, despite the downturn in the US housing market.

The portal continues to be one of the only major real estate websites that allows both real estate companies and individuals to market their homes on the Internet.

The 'Network' essentially combined the sales teams of the participating companies to sell advertising across numerous platforms, as well as help tap into associated advertising spaces such as home supply stores and builder supply companies.

Update 2:  Zillow has now confirmed the 'Zillow Advertising Network' and the press release can be found here.
Edited 10:35 ET staff

Saturday, September 6, 2008

SMX East comes to NY - Search Marketing Expo 2008

Search Marketing Expo East moves to a new venue this year at the more spacious Javits Convention Center, October 6-8, 2008 in New York City.

Floorplans, speakers, a complete agenda and more can now be found at the SMX East website here.
As of this post, discount passes are still available.

SMX is produced by the gang at Search Engine Land, and, at least from people that have dropped me a few notes, will see some new faces attending this year, including many of the east coast regulars on the search community Sphinn.

While I'm doing a little last minute calendar flipping as I write this, I do expect to 'extract myself from the country' this time and be at SMX, hopefully for both days. I'm honestly looking forward to reconnecting with many of you!

SMX East, in recent years, has proven to be one of the best regional networking opportunities.

Note: This year, I'm going strictly for the parties (and the schwag :)

Great weekend all

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sony recalling VAIO VGN-TZ laptops

In what appears now to be a widespread problem, Sony is recalling many 'TZ' serious laptops.

After several hundred consumer complaints and almost half a million units sold worldwide, Sony responded to a rapid proliferation of new reports with this subtle 'notification' on their website last night.

The units in questions have an internal wiring fault that could lead to overheating.  According to Sony, no fires have been reported to date, however minor burning could occur if touching the effected areas.

Man may remember it was about two years ago when Sony experienced a massive recall of laptop batteries made both for their own use and numerous other manufacturers.  The company experienced some bad PR, not to mention a significant charge against earnings.

News reports vary and some could be feeding of the 'memory frenzy', but from the way the support ticket is written, if you own a Sony Vaio series VGN-TZ100, VGN-TZ200, VGN-TZ300, or VGN-TZ2000, it's probably a good idea to contact the company now.

The special recall hotline is 1-888-526-6219.

Post updated 10 AM ET Sept 5

Facebook - Ready or not - Here we come !

Facebook to move permanently to new look, possibly this week.

"We're nearing the time where we'll switch over remaining users by default. We expect most of this to take place over the next week."

That's the word tonight from Josh Elman at Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago in one of my (very) rare rants, I took at shot at Facebook for making wholesale changes to the UI.  A friend of mine said I hadn't given it enough time.  The fact is, for a guy who's always talking about 'embracing change', I really hadn't.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has announced they now have 100 million users (not shabby by any standard!) and that 30 million have already tried the new format.  It's really difficult (as always) to determine how many of the 100 million are really 'active' users and / or how often they log in.

While I realize that it may be difficult to be delivering the old and new formats, especially for application developers, there's a lot of us that spend a lot of time, in a lot of different places.

It brings back memories of when Yahoo 'pushed' everyone to Panama.  They gave a lot of notice.  They sent a lot of e-mails and mailings.

At the time, I had a client (not a small spend) that completely flipped out.  He'd been busy growing his business.  Preferred to do PPC himself (and was good at it), and simply wasn't ready to go through a new learning curve.  He put it off, forgot about it, and woke up one day to ... Huh?

I find myself using Facebook more and more.  There are a lot of reasons.  I DID give the new look a quick run tonight, and factually overall it is better.

Facebook should consider giving a permanent switch just a little more time, and some heavy PR to a major change that could come as a surprise to many.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

AP, Reuters, AFP, CNN, The NY Times - Who really gets it

The last time I did a piece on the news wires, it was about Reuters.

A gentleman from AFP chimed in at the time noting they had a growing presence in the US, and factually, they are now more visible on Yahoo and in other places.

Reuters continues to innovate.  The first (to my knowledge ... CNN now does it too) to allow embeddable video in blogs, now they've got widgets.

Not just widgets, but if you're on the Blogger platform, one button, easy to install widgets!  (Hey guys ... psst ... WordPress).

Add this relatively new selection to their Blogburst content and ongoing Yahoo You Witness News partnership ... and you've got a visionary group that is well out in front  ... and they continue to innovate.

Unfortunately, there is no tech widget (yet) but there are a few to choose from, and just I added the news to  the right column as an example.  It took less than a minute.  Instant marketing for Reuters.  Period.  Unprecedented, no.  Smart?  How can anyone argue?

So, as Anderson Cooper and Rick Sanchez who now are both now Twittering away (really)......

Twittering is cool, but free instant promotion across potentially tens of thousands of blogs is better.

Update:  The National Weather Service has also rolled out a few new widgets.  Track Hanna - lower right!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Affordable SEO for limited budgets and more

Update: I realize this post is long.  Take the time to read it and maybe you can save a few bucks and we can have a little fun :) ... For those (now four?) who e-mailed that I was 'undercutting the industry', that's just ridiculous.  There's plenty out there gang.  The little guys deserve a break.

Part of this post will be a little so-called shameless self-promotion so indulge me this time around??

SEO and Tech Daily is a little over one year old.  (We did it!).

It was more than an experiment in what interests different people, SEO, marketing, engagement, blog promotion and many other spaces that I wanted to 'test'.

Test being the key word here, as any online marketer that isn't constantly watching the changes on the Internet , is factually losing track ... and it's changing more every day.

The reality is, that for well over a decade I, like so many others, have literally loved this place.  The Internet has changed industries, accountability, governments, trade, opinion, and much more.  It's been truly fascinating to watch.

Measured personal decisions were made along the way from keep current with hardware and software, to being, yes, an early adopter of the Internet, and then to the space that fascinated me the most .... Search.

I used to call it 'Playing chess with Google'.

This blog has also been a vehicle for me personally not only to learn more (nobody knows everything ... at any age) but to meet and network with many, many new people that I hadn't met at a meet-up or convention.  My weekly 'outside the box' search has led me to find even more, many of whom have been added to the shared feed and the blogroll, but in all honesty, both are just a sampling of who's out there, whether it be still-to-be discovered brilliant coders, great authors, new visionaries, people that know how to run a company and respond to their target audience, and to the personalities in search and social media, many of whom I still read or converse with every day.

The multitude of brilliant, funny and just great (true) friends that I've met as a result of this modest blog and chat with regularly is simply amazing.

The other reason that SEO and Tech Daily was launched (and I know MANY can relate to this too) was that after 5 years doing in-house SEO, it doesn't take long before you 'disappear'.  People forget who you are. The brand (yes, in this case, my name) was diluted significantly.

Yesterday, more than a few pointed to a new site using the Friendfeed API called FriendfeedHolic. It was after using it that the reality (finally) sunk in that, like Twitter before it, I was spending just a little too much time there.  I have more subscribers on Friendfeed than to this blog.  The reason is simple.  Engagement.  Simply one of the best networking vehicles to hit the web in years, and getting better all the time.  While EVERY social vehicle is a new channel for recognition and potential success, Friendfeed really 'got me'.

It's called compulsion.  It's the same compulsion (as many would testify to) that I give to individuals and others  that seek my advice.  Working a project day and night to a solution.

If you belong in the Top-10 for a particular word, term or phrase, you should be there ... large or small.

I had hoped to put a little more here, here, here (or even here :) prior to launching this new piece.  The personal blog is a must.  Some corrections to the others need to be made.

So here we go:

Firstly, SEO and Tech Daily will continue.  I love this place (and apparently so do many of you).  The tone will change slightly as I move it back to more of a mixed bag, similar to how it started out, while maintaining the important or interesting finds while passing the rest two or three times daily in the shared feed (at right).  Several companies are talking 'sponsorship' positively, so hopefully I can add a few more highly trusted writers here soon.

The days of in-house SEO are over (for me).  My advice to the rest of you struggling with this is that when a developer says he's got a Google killer script and sells it to the CEO ... run! Follow your gut.  Do what you believe.

The days of fairness in marketing begin NOW.  Personally taking on 2-5 of you at a time..., couching, helping, and helping the search engines to discover you.  A balance between 'organic search' and SEO, so that you, yes you, see your fair share.  Individuals and very small companies only.  One on one. You and me.  At a price you can afford....and NO BS.  It's more fun for me that way an there are way too many companies that should be seeing this exposure, including a whole crop that don't even know what SEO is!

There are some GREAT SEO and online marketing companies out there.  Most are tuned to big corporations and do a great job.  Many of you can't even afford to attend a search convention.  (That bothers me a lot).

So rather than have someone break the embargo (??!! :), that's the deal.  The new phone number and special DIRECT e-mail with be posted here in just a little while.  I have NO IDEA what the reaction will be so you may get voice mail (but no 15 minute hold with icky music).  It honestly depends how fast I market it or if that even becomes necessary at all.

Sounds like fun to me?  This guy is NEVER going to retire.  I love this stuff.  There's too much exciting technology ahead.

edited 9 AM Thursday Sept 4

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Picasaweb adds Creative Commons and e-mail upload

Google is firing on all cylinders today.

This time with a significant upgrade to Picasaweb.

Several articles last night mentioned the launch of face recognition (you read that right ... and it's pretty accurate!).

Now, some long overdue features such as Creative Commons copyright designations as well as photo  upload by e-mail are also on board.

Picasaweb and the integral Picasa photo editing and filing program are still free.

After a day like this, it really makes you wonder what Mountain View is planning next.

PS:  How much does Google know about you?  Try 'recognizing' your own face and then see how many obsolete e-mails or other info comes up.  Gave me a quick heads up that it's time to update my LinkedIn profile ..... and a few other places.

Google Chrome Browser Download is live - Update 2

A short time ago, as we were watching some live blogging at Matt Cutts' blog and elsewhere, the actual browser    that's been the buzz for well over a day .... was made available by Google for download (in fact, I'm using it to do this post and several are already discussing it on Friendfeed).

Google Chrome, the new web browser beta, which appears (so far) to be very lightweight and somewhat flexible has finally arrived.  Interesting integration with Google Gears and other Google projects should make this fun to explore for developers for days.

So while others are watching the press conference, go grab a copy and see what you think here.

Update:  A few (understatement) views from around the world of Google's Chrome browser can now be found at this TechMeMe page.

Update 2: I have shared a variety of viewpoints in our shared reader feed (at right) on Chrome.  For those of you looking for developer info and more information on what's under the hood, Google has now posted a good dev resource here.

The Republican National Convention on the web

I promised to follow up the DNC Convention resources piece last week with an article on Web Resources to view the Republican National Convention shortly thereafter.

Then came Gustav, and a decision to reschedule the entire convention

Many on Twitter were wondering about travel plans changing, but at the very last minute, an abbreviated first day did go on ... and the bloggers and many others holding press passes were in the air to St. Paul.

Miss yesterday?

The official website of the 2008 Republican National Convention is here. It's an easy to navigate website (very easy), and does have video re-runs using UStream, and audio feeds as well.

The RNC has asked that you visit this site first and help the victims of Hurricane Gustav in any way that you can.

Press Releases (with an RSS feed) are now being updated with full schedules for the next 3 days and can be found here.

Twitter?  Yep.  The 'official' Twitter feed is here.  Google is providing search for the website and other official web partners include Digg, YouTube, MySpace, UStream and Facebook.

The question that landed in my e-mail (a lot?) the most during the Democratic Convention was who the accredited bloggers are.  At this moment, I am unable to find that list for the RNC but bloggers are mentioned throughout the website.The McCain campaign website is also being updated as of late yesterday and may provide some additional information as the day goes on.

Promise kept. 

I know I've said it before.... but to all of those who joined me on other networks, Friendfeed, and numerous social places, providing links and excellent information as Hurricane Gustav approached prior to full-time mainstream media coverage, did a GREAT job.  Take solice in the thought that if you helped one elderly or ill person get out of harms way, you made a HUGE contribution.

Great week to all!

Monday, September 1, 2008

One day off and the world changes?

Somehow it never fails.

Every time I decide to take a short break and spend a few quality days with my wife, more people discover this blog than usual, more write notes directly, and a few pitches come through with new product launches.

Of course, that's totally contrary to reason, but it happens, every time, to the extent where I'm re-thinking my whole time management thing. Maybe SEO and Tech ... without the Daily ?? Needs work.

So what did I miss that you probably didn't?

Google is apparently launching their own browser in a few hours. Want to read about it?. There are at least 50 takes on the news (and growing) on TechMeMe here, including the official announcement from Google. My take? ... There have been Googlized versions of browsers for years (and operating systems too .. including the newly released gOS Linux distribution). Lots of buzz here so far. We'll see.

CNN apparently upped their usage of Twitter again (after interviewing long-time blogger Erin Kotecki at the Democratic Convention and then making a few on-air mentions ... ). The latest CNN Twitterer is anchor Rick Sanchez.

Sidenote: If you haven't been there, BlogHer is one of the most ambitious blog co-ops on the web today. Be sure and check it out .... (while I make a quick call and see if I can copyright .. ugh ... BlogHim).

Our promised follow up to the piece we did on Technology at the Democratic Convention to exhibit technology at the Republican National Convention missed entirely ... but so did convention day one (for the most part, due to Hurricane Gustav). With my own 'fairness doctrine' firmly in place, that piece with lots of blogger links and more, will run tomorrow.

A few final notes: I'm debating attending SMX New York right now. If you're going (whether I know you or not), drop me a note at any one of the services at the right. (Hint: I still check Friendfeed most often :).

Finally ... take it from me. If you spend a LOT of time in front of a monitor, take a few days off. It does wonders for your objectivity on this whole Web 2.0 thing.

Update Sep 2 AM: Make that at least 500 news sources now reporting on Google Chrome (Techmeme link) on the web and in the mainstream media .... and, as of this post, the Google Browser download has yet to be posted.  That's called generating a buzz ! :)