Saturday, November 29, 2008

Report: Microsoft in talks with Yahoo! UPDATE

UPDATED - See Below ..

The TimesOnline (London) is reporting that, once again, Microsoft is in talks to 'buy' Yahoo!.

This latest bid is for Yahoo's search business.

Speculation of a 'new deal' began early this week as Carl Icahn, who now is on the Yahoo! board, revealed that he had purchased a larger stake in the search company.

Microsoft dominated the tech news headlines for months during 2008 as the company made two bids to buy Yahoo!.

Primary opposition came from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang who recently stepped down as CEO of the company as pressure continued to build from stockholders and the new Yahoo! board.

The (as yet, unconfirmed) report provides specific details of the new talks underway (and the Times has been generally reliable in breaking stories over the years).

According to the report, Microsoft will supply $5 billion in capital with an additional $5 billion from outside investors.

"The talks with Yahoo involve Microsoft obtaining a 10-year operating agreement to manage the search business. It would also receive a two-year call option to buy the search business for $20 billion. That would leave Yahoo to run its own e-mail, messaging, and content services."

Recent stats from ComScore have shown that Yahoo! had increased it's market share in the past few months and this latest chapter would give the new 'operating group' control of the search business for a fraction of the original bid made before the 'economic downturn'.

The Times story is online and can be found here.

UPDATE: 1:20 AM ET - Kara Swisher (who more often than not has an excellent inside track on this landscape and many of the people involved) just dropped a note back on Twitter and pointed me to her piece titled 'Total Fiction - There is no deal' which can be found at All Things Digital here. (with Thanks to Kara for her always prompt response and clarification!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hulu with a dash of CBS?

Viewers of the increasing popular video site Hulu, the joint venture of Fox and NBC are becoming fanatical, and with good reason.

As mentioned in our piece earlier this week, Hulu is, well, just GREAT.  Super-quick navigation if you missed that coveted episode of 24,  ... or House. 

What about NCIS?

Enter the now out-of-beta which made tech headlines earlier this week.
No log-on necessary. Excellent streaming. CBS programming and LOTS of Hulu!

One stop TV over IP?

Why would the major US TV networks and others give away full length episodes?  (... and even let you embed them?).

It's not just about fan attraction or loyalty.

They found something that makes money.

You may remember them.

They're called .....

..... commercials.

Check out the new public Sling beta here.

Thanksgiving - Reach Out and Touch Someone

About a year and a half ago, I started this blog with a few goals in mind.

In all honesty, the main goal was to re-brand myself in an industry that I had been active in since the very beginning, although very much behind the scenes.

I felt things changing and I wanted to be positioned.  (Who knew??)  Like many entrepreneurs, I had had a few successes and a few failures.  Those that have been there know what I mean.  You learn A LOT.

What I didn't expect at all, came as a pleasant surprise from my activity on Friendfeed, Twitter and Facebook .... and a few other places.

Online friendships that turned to real ones.  Some in person, some on podcasts, and some on the phone.  All enjoyable and/or valuable.

In one case, someone had followed me on Friendfeed for a bit, liked some of what I had written, and recommended a client.  It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable (and fun!?) business relationships that I ever had.

If I start naming names, you might be reading this post until tomorrow.  Suffice to say that, I, for one, am grateful (and give thanks) to the entrepreneurs that brought us some of these great networking products.....

....and especially to the many, many 'electronic' friends that came through and  more often than not,  completely unexpectedly for this and other projects.

Those that know me well, know that I have always held out positive thoughts for the potential of the web, and the it's potential effect on the citizens of the world.  I still do.

There are many that have been affected by the current economic times.
In recent weeks, time permitting, I'll been doing a little of what I can to help these folks.
If you have an extra minute or two, even if it's just emotional support, try to help someone who needs it during this turbulent (insane?) financial chapter.

I take a lot of pride in what this modest blog has delivered in it's relatively short lifespan (and particularly in the many notes that I have received directly, from many of you).

Although posting has become a little sporadic, rather than daily, (It's been busy!), I've been thinking more and more about moving the content more to SEO and PPC to try and help those who need it. Many small business (and people) can't borrow money. They simply can't pay for it.

Those decisions remain ahead.

I'm thankful for the health and well being of my family and friends.

....and to all of you, who I've had a little fun with on Friendfeed, and to those that have followed this blog and sent suggestions, comments and other notes.

Happy Thanksgiving All!

posted / edited 2:50 pm et

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sun's Java Runtime 6 goes to Update 10

If you're anything like me, you might keep some 'web-aware' programs turned off (for speed and memory).

In checking the Sun Java virtual machine earlier today, I noticed that it had been upgraded to Version 6 Update 10 for General Release (for the Windows Platform running DirectX 9.0c).

You can check your system by going the the control panel and clicking on the Java icon.  It will tell you what version you have and whether or not and update is available.

Upon installing the upgrade, you will be prompted whether or not to include the Yahoo toolbar (a practice which is becoming all too common but you can opt-out), and when completed, the update will revert to the defaults.

In my case, I turn the auto-updater off and also do not cache the Java files and performance under XP3 is fine. 

You may also want to revisit 'installed programs' as the Java engine doesn't always remove the previous copy.

There are numerous changes under Update 10 including better interaction with DirectX graphics acceleration and more.  Sun's Update 10 release notes can be found here.

Notes:  Some issues have been reported with Java SE 6 and Google's Chrome Browser.  In our tests, it worked fine but depending on YOUR configuration that may not be the case.  In fact, Update 10 appears to be tuned better for Chrome (see below).  In addition, much older machines may have the original Microsoft Virtual Machine still installed. The Sun engine will replace it and (technically) the Microsoft Virtual Machine is no longer available.

Let your hardware do the work.  Because the product is delivered separately (but provided on most out-of-the-box computers), Microsoft's Windows Update will NOT update your Java engine.

In two machines here, both with hardware accelerators on-board, there was a marked improvement in graphics speed under Windows XP3 with the latest version of DirectX.

You can visit Sun's Java Website here.

Holiday Blunder - Sirius / XM - UPDATE

I talk a lot about 'early adopters' in this space, usually referring to those users that sign-up for a brand-new web-based product early, and give it the test run for everyone else.  If they like it, many become FREE evangelists spreading the word quickly across the web and tech communities.

The phrase 'early adopter' can be easy ported to almost anything.  I was an early adopter of DirecTv about two weeks after launch. I also (with a similar satellite fascination) was an early adopter of XM Radio.  (I suppose the Wankel Engine qualifies here as well as I literally couldn't help myself when the first Mazda RX-7s appeared in the early 80's.  That was one cool car :)

While many people I knew were moving to iPods and other portable devices for their mobile entertainment, I continued to use XM for my daily take on news and information.  In rural areas, the TV and Radio stations can be spotty and XM filled that void for me for several years.

Early this year, I discontinued that subscription .... and have been missing it ever since.

It's hardly a secret to investors, but XM and Sirius satellite radio got a green light from regulators to merge a few months ago.  It was apparently 'make or break financial survival'.  At the time, there was lots of talk about new radios, new price plans and more. I expected to see them before the all-important holiday selling season.

XM did come out with an a la carte pricing package which, at last check, is just $3 / month less than the full programming package?

A news and info package, or 'basic' music package could have been a hit at the $7.95 price point, maybe even $8.95.  They probably would have seen people pre-pay 6 or 12 months.  Instead they chose the issue prepaid cards for gift buyers.  Huh?

That wasn't what finally stopped me from buying a shiny new receiver yesterday.

The new receivers are few and far between in retailers.  The price point is HIGHER that when I originally subscribed and most of the less expensive units (I have no need for a color screen for XM?) are land-locked to the original price package ...... and have almost no features.

While my original receiver had remote control and a full car kit for under $50, those products apparently were held up by the merger, or possibly by the fact that Delphi appears to be gone from the hardware mix.

I realize this company has had problems but they also have an educated buying audience and this stuff is just wrong.  Subsidize the box. More importantly, get them into the stores?  The aftermarket is still HUGE.

Relying on car manufacturers and built-ins (that may not get renewed), isn't enough.

While buyers in the FOUR stores I visited were lined up 10 and 20 deep for the Verizon Storm (which was sold out at all), the XM / Sirius areas were empty.  So were the shelves.  Maybe I'm missing something here but ....

Where's the buzz ??

Correction and Update November 27:  Delphi IS still manufacturing numerous units for XM.  Since we first posted this piece, numerous discounts and rebates for the holiday selling season have been posted online and by numerous Sirius and XM retailers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

YouTube fights back. I didn't watch.

Last night after weeks of 'quiet hype' on the YouTube blog and elsewhere, Google launched YouTube Live.

There are already some lessons to be learned, as the reviews (mostly bad), continue to roll-in.

Prior to the launch, there had been numerous articles on how people were adopting Hulu in large numbers.  I've written about Hulu here since the private beta, and I am still a die-hard Hulu fan.


I spend some (much more lately) of my time in the 'real world'.  I occasionally miss a TV show that I enjoy  and I can sit back with my wife anytime and watch that missed episode.  It's really that simple.  Hulu's easy and simple interface is great .... and we usually discover something else after.

Web video is still in transition.  MOST people simply don't have the time to watch blog videos at anywhere near the level they are being produced.

A good example would be Robert Scoble.  Scoble, who recently returned from China (and at last check on Friendfeed was editing gobs of footage for Fast Company), had been pounced on more than a few times for hyping the trip in Twitter and Friendfeed, while here at home, many were thinking about one thing ... their jobs. 

I DID view some of Scoble's China photos on Flickr which I found to be not only thought provoking and even somewhat fascinating, but also amazing 'clear', thanks to his state-of-the-art camera equipment and the recent hyper advances in photo technology.

Will I watch the Fast Company video ?  The honest answer is maybe.

Like so many others, I still watch 'most' video on TV and when I'm here on the web, it's usually TV programming.

YouTube is a different animal.  I took to the platform a few months ago with my wife and it was fun.  It wasn't a promotional video. It was a family video congratulating our daughter on her engagement.  The one thing I can say is that YouTube positively made it easy.  It wasn't 'production quality'. It wasn't meant to be.  YouTube converted the uploaded format in seconds.  Most other video platforms limit the format you can use.

YouTube Live made mistakes.

Perhaps the biggest boo-boo was launching it on a huge night for American College Football.  Techies and others that embrace YouTube may not talk about it online often but a LARGE number are football fans.  YouTube lost me briefly last night.  I honestly forgot all about it.  (Penn State vs YouTube is simply a no-brainer :)

Looking at the launch this morning, I found one redeeming quality.

While the are literally tens of thousands of people trying to get that one viral video out there and stake their claim in Internet video fame, YouTube Live has provided a new vehicle.

There's a real good chance that a few people I noticed on the front page will achieve that status over a short period of time.  The challenge of course, will be keeping it that way in an increasingly crowded field.

I'm tempted to think that with smartphones now everywhere and bloggers doing almost anything they can to remain at the forefront, the tech community is sometimes forgetting that the larger part of the population still lives MOSTLY in the 'real world', and part-time on the web and / or tethered to a smartphone.

Yahoo's recent marketing change is a great example.  Less huge signs in major tech centers and MUCH more radio advertising.  People still listen to the radio in their cars and that's not going to change any time soon.  ComScore's recent numbers on Yahoo show an INCREASE (mostly overlooked in the press).  Whether or not they can pull a turn-around is another story entirely.

There's only so much time in a day and whether or not people embrace online video (and where) is still, very much, an open question ..... and a tremendous challenge for those producing it.

Have a GREAT weekend all

Friday, November 21, 2008

Google's SearchWiki - Can it work ?

Last night, Google turned on a new feature within their flagship product, Google Search.

Those logged in with a Google account can now change the search results for any given search phrase and / or comment on a particular result.

The 'changes' will only be visible to the account holder however the comments are PUBLIC.

Google has used this approach before in other offerings.  In Google News, those mentioned in a news story have the option of commenting or reacting to the story.  In Google's image search, volunteers can use Image Labeler to correct the location or content of photos.

This latest offering is a little different and certainly has some positives and negatives.

Google will no doubt pick up some additional GMail and other Google accounts as you need a free Google account to use it.  Assuming they monitor the comments, deletions, and push-up's, Google will have some direct user interaction to utilyze.

The public comments are somewhat different and could potentially open a whole new chapter of  'abuse'.  That remains to be seen, but the potential is certainly there.

Perhaps Google was testing us this morning when I typed in 'Search Engine' and got this in the No. 1 position:

(click to enlarge)
Comments anyone? :) 

On the other hand, please, buy all means, feel free :

 For the most part, the features will be invisible to those not logged in.

User interaction, whether it be comments on blogs (and /or offsite comments on Disqus or even Friendfeed) has gone mainstream in many spaces on the web.

The announcement of Google Search Wiki was made on the 'Official Google Blog' and can be found here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Before You Buy That Cool New Cellphone

With the Verizon Storm release tomorrow, there are a host of reviews hitting the web today.

I pumped the phone here as well.  Having had the chance to 'play' with one, initial impressions were just well, very cool.  (Contrary to some of the more in-depth reviews, my only complaint was the lack of a qwerty keyboard which is bound to drive a few previous Blackberry users crazy...).

This article isn't about the Storm.

It's about something that's been going on for years and still seems to be one of the best kept secrets in America.  Even the people at Verizon or AT&T stores don't know what I'm talking about when I bring it up.

Thinking about a cellphone as a gift?  Read on.

Unlike most of the rest of the world which started off on GSM cell frequencies, there are NUMEROUS frequency bands in use in the US by all of the major cellphone carriers.  You would think this is 'a good thing'.  The problem is that not all cellphones can access those frequencies.

Personally, because I live and travel in rural areas, I have used dual-mode, tri-mode and even quad-mode phones .... to try and get 'solid' coverage.

It's not always enough.

If I'm counting right (including roaming on other carriers), Verizon is now up to at least 6 bands (probably more).

A quick look through their current phone offerings this morning shows everything from single band EV-DO phone, to dual band CDMA, and many, many others.

The latest tip off to this mess is that the EDGE coverage (and 3G) where I spend most of my time is great.  It a complete dead area for the still more prevalent CDMA phones!  The cell tower roll out money is being spent on high-speed.  That may be great for techies and others that like video and web browsing (and, of course, Friendfeed :), but it's not so hot for someone looking to use a basic cellphone to make a phonecall?

Verizon should do a better job listing the exact frequencies their phone offerings work on.  'Digital Only' doesn't cut it.

The 30-day test drive.  Use it or lose it. .... and bookmark it.  You may need it.

ALL of the major carriers have a 30-day test drive. It's not 'something nice' that was put out there.  It came as a result of this hodge podge cellphone roll-out in the US, in the form of federal regulation.

If you can, try that new phone in every place you plan to be regularly within the first 30 days.  While major cities should be A-OK for most, you may get a surprise in the 'remote suburbs'.  The online coverage maps, although MUCH better than in years past, still aren't 100%.

Example?  The spot that I'm typing this right now shows 3G and CDMA for both Verizon and AT&T.
As they say in the commercial, "It's a dead zone"

.... unless, of course, I climb up on the roof ....

Things will improve over time.  It's become pretty obvious that Verizon and AT&T are out to squoosh Sprint / Nextel and T-Mobile.  This is one case where a couple of mergers 'could' actually help the consumer.

We'll see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

1cast is Live in Private Beta

Earlier today, privately held 1Cast went live in private beta.

The new service allows you to customize news feeds from a variety of sources and have them streamed to your desktop or smartphone.

The initial line-up includes feeds from AP, AFP, Reuters, CNBC and CBC.

Streaming quality was near excellent on both high-speed and DSL connections and the variety, although somewhat limited, provided a good overview of the 'morning news' around the world.

Founded in 2006, Kirkland WA based 1Cast recently completed a funding round led by Eagle River Holdings, LLC.

You can check out 1Cast by signing up for an invite here.

More free stuff from Google and Microsoft

It was just a couple of days ago that in a piece about Microsoft, I suggested it might be prime time to return to the old MS model of 'giving stuff away' to try and capture large chunks of online market share.

There is no better time than an 'economic downturn' to win users, potentially over the long term, by providing some important products for FREE.

Google and Microsoft (and others) have spent millions developing and / or acquiring software over the last decade.  While their internal development and deployment approaches differ, they have made 'some' products readily available to the public.  Google, in particular, has rolled out one product at a time, many times competing directly with Microsoft with web-based products.

Late yesterday came word that Google has released a new Search Based Keyword Tool.  While Yahoo and Google have both delivered keyword 'suggestion' tools over the years and more recently the highly touted  Google Ad Planner (which seems to have disappeared from the news but is a great tool for media buyers), this new tool takes a somewhat different approach.  Barry Schwartz has posted a good review and walk through at Search Engine Land here.

From Microsoft comes word  that their paid 'OneCare' virus and malware protection program will be phased out over the coming months and be replaced by a FREE product.

Microsoft already has a publicly available family of Beta products under the Windows Live brand (noted here on Monday) which now includes the new Live Family Safety -  a child protection and monitoring program.  It's a safe bet any new consumer virus product would probably be launched along with the products in this new 'Live Suite' which is already extensive and includes, among others things, 25 GB of FREE online storage from Microsoft's SkyDrive.

Just the beginning gang.  As Google keeps the cash going by adding ads to many of their existing online products and Microsoft hopefully realizes that some of their internal competition is costly and delivers more products directly to consumer (and small business), the 'downturn' could end up being a 'free software homerun' for everyone as these companies (and others) continue to battle for your desktop.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jeff Pulver's back - New Conference announced

Jeff Pulver is back, and is launching a new conference to be held in New York City on February 10th and 11th.

Known as 'SocComm', the conference will explore that state of Social Communications, where it is today and where it's headed tomorrow.

A call for speakers and full explanation of this latest venture is now posted to The Jeff Pulver Blog.

Well known to the tech community, Pulver is widely recognized for drafting the 'petition for clarification declaring Free World Dialup', adopted by the Federal Communications Commission on February 12, 2004.  The document essentially paved the way for non-regulated VoIP communications and was the first FCC ruling regarding Internet Protocol (IP) communications.

Those interested in SocComm (or speaking at the event) can visit the blog post above for information or

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adobe delivers AIR Version 1.5

You may have noticed it if you use any of the popular cross-platform AIR applications from Adobe.

The latest version of Adobe AIR, Version 1.5 is now available.

AIR 1.5 embraces the new Adobe Flash Player 10 and also makes use of the high performance Javascript engine, Squirrelfish (part of the WebKit Open Source web browser technology project).

You can download AIR 1.5 from the Adobe website here and browse some of the now hundreds of applications now being released on the Adobe AIR platform here .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Apple unleashes Safari 3.2 for Windows

In probably one of the quietest launches from Apple in a long time, the company released an upgrade to the popular Safari Browser for Windows, Version 3.2, a short time ago.

While the documentation on Apple's website (as of this post) is still reflecting information relating to the previous version (3.1.2), we were able to download the newer version from the Apple website Sunday with no problem, and a 'quick spin' had it running nicely on our 'test box' (running Windows XP3).

More as we explore a little 'under the hood'.

For now, you can grab a copy of Apple's latest browser for Windows here.

Update 1:  Some release notes for Safari 3.2 can now be found here.

Update 2: The updates to Safari are essentially 'security' related.  Using it most of the day under Windows, it was still the speed demon (and a great take on what your blog or website looks like on a MAC) that it's been since version 3.1.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is Microsoft finally delivering Plug n Play ?

I doubt that too many people would dispute the fact the Windows operating system has matured over time, or that huge hurdles were overcome with introduction of Windows XP.

Vista was delivered prematurely, in my humble opinion, as many computer manufacturers had to scramble to update not only drivers but firmware as well. That didn't help 'average users'.

In recent weeks, Microsoft has been delivering a slew of free 'betas'. Many bring together desktop client software with online products. I highlighted Microsoft's Live Mesh in a previous post here and called it "One of the most underestimated roll-outs in recent Microsoft history".


Just about anyone can set it up (without a manual). Almost instantaneous web-based networking .... and it just works.

I like to compare this chapter in Internet history and software evolution to when the telephone companies offered companies services (PBX, etc.) from a central location. Some adopted the idea. Others kept their on-site systems.

Some will probably adopt 'cloud computing' and off-site programs. Others will wait.

This 'partial' approach that continues from Microsoft makes sense, and is something to watch.

This past week, Microsoft unleashed a group of Betas for Windows Live.

In reality, the new betas, which can be found here, are upgrades of existing ongoing beta programs.

The look and feel are a little different but the one thing that did stand out is that they not only work better, but they're much easier to use.

While I'm not a big fan of toolbars (for a variety of reasons), I have been a user of the Windows Live Mail client. It's versatile. The spam filter is good ... and, you can essentially do away with Outlook altogether. The beta is better.

The same can be said for Windows Writer. The 'off-site' blog composer. A solid upgrade.

During the download, I noticed some components from Visual Studio and SQL server being installed. It appears, at first glance, that Microsoft's latest approach is to bring together client software with web-based products with a easy-to-use approach.

Is Plug n Play here? 'Web-Aware PLUS?'

Wouldn't it be cool if you could actually buy a PC and not have to count on a tech buddy a few months later to 'fix it'?

When the new (It really wasn't new, just redesigned) Microsoft Store opened this week, it became readily apparent that Microsoft wants their software to work on your computer DIRECT and ... that's probably a good thing.

They also very much want to be your search company and kudos to them for not automatically defaulting your system to Internet Explorer OR The install 'asks' first (at the very end). You can still use Firefox and Google all you want.

The key to web and desktop dominance is what Microsoft has done many times in the past. For lack of a better way of putting it, start giving stuff away (particularly during these economic times).

The company with the most cash wins?  It's a rare opportunity that Microsoft, Google and other should embrace.

Some built-ins similar to CCleaner wouldn't hurt either. Automating the hard disk clean-up, in a friendly way for non-techies, would be simply awesome.

Do we need cache files and cookies?. Lots of companies that make money following you around would say yes.  The reality in a lot of cases in NO.  In some cases, temp files take up huge amounts of disk space.

John Battelle (Federated Media) declared 'Web 2.0 is over' on his blog the other day.  Several others have now chimed in.  Cookies for ads 'could' be very well dead.

Battelle has been through many ups and downs in this business and it's pretty obvious that he's regrouping for the 'next chapter' as well:

Finally ....

Direct interaction on the web (and by telephone) by these companies to key customer support and sales personnel should be INCREASED, not downsized.  While other 'dot coms', including major well-known e-commerce sites have virtually eliminated customer service, just another great opportunity for the right companies.


staff edit Nov 17

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update your Firefox - Version 3.0.4 just released

A short time ago, Firefox released the latest stable version of Firefox 3.0.

If your browser doesn't automatically update, you can simply click 'Help' (at the top), then 'Check for Updates'.

This latest release comes a few days ahead of schedule and addresses a variety of security issues, stability issues, and fixes a number of reported bugs.

The complete list of release notes can be found here

Note: As of this post, the page above says 'Beta' which appears to be a typo, as an update had been expected and Firefox 3.0 went final some time ago.  All extensions (that we use) are working fine.

Progress continues on the next significant release of Firefox (still in the 'Minefield') with a host of features and improvements being tested in the nightly builds of Firefox 3.1 RC2. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Microsoft Security Updates and Visual Studio 2010 ?!

 "Update Tuesday" from Microsoft earlier today saw a wide variety of security (and other updates) for Windows (most versions), Microsoft Office (2000, 2003 and 2007), and more.

Automatic updates started rolling out mid-day but if you have your network or desktop set to manually update, these are significant updates (including continued support of XP).

Most can also be found (along with a complete .iso image) at the Microsoft Download Center.

In other Microsoft news ... .NET 4.0 and Windows 7 continue with .... Visual Studio 2010 !

looking ahead (now)

In concert with Tech Ed Barcelona, a CTP (Community Technology Preview) has been launched for Visual Studio 2010 along with a new website. (Note: CTP's are pre-release software and shouldn't be installed on a mission-critical computer).

Visual Studio 2010 is set to succeed Visual Studio 2008.

The CTP can be downloaded here.

edited  9:15 PM ET

Update 2 - Blackberry Storm launchdate now confirmed

In an update to our story last week, it appears Verizon has decided to take the NYC Blackberry Storm promo to the front page of with a large 'splash screen'. has now joined the 'online party' with a complete Blackberry Storm 9530 interactive user guide.

In the meantime, rumors are still circulating this morning regarding the launch price and official date.  A few notable websites are reporting $200 with a 2 year contract (and possibly less for business customers). We were unable to confirm this with Verizon.

Regardless, 'the buzz' is now everywhere, whether you're waiting for Verizon or Vodaphone.

Are we getting closer?  Will it be a iPhone 'killer'? 

It appears we'll know sooner rather than later .....

Stay tuned :)

Update 2 Nov 13 AM : Verizon has now confirmed that the highly anticipated Blackberry Storm will be available on November 21st.  Initial pricing is aggressive at $199 (with a new two year contract).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Remote Desktop - Live Mesh is a winner

In what could be one of the most underestimated roll-outs in recent Microsoft history, 'Live Mesh (beta)' could very well be one of the best things to happen to non-techies in a very long time.

In a brief test of the online product this morning, we were able to not only instantly sign up for the service (with a .NET account) instantly, but add two computers and activate a full screen remote desktop on both (either), all in well under TWO minutes.

It's worth noting with all the new nomenclature running around that this product essentially is NOT cloud computing (which is being address by Microsoft's Azure as well as numerous closed betas in Microsoft Office Online).

What it is, is a file sharing and storage platform (5 Gigs currently) PLUS one of the easiest ways to remotely network full screen control over another computer that we've seen in a long time.

Live Mesh will initially ask for Internet Explorer to download an Active X control and also loads client software (which can easily be turned off) onto any computer that you wish to add to your mesh.

Our test was run with two PC's running XP SP3. A preview for Mac is available and a mobile connector is coming soon.

Mesh (once discovered by the masses) will be an instant hit.


It works. It's extremely simple ..... and you don't have to call 'the tech guy' to use or fix it.

The Microsoft Live Mesh website can be found here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friendfeed Rocks! - Adds IM, Maps and more videos

In less than a week, Friendfeed has added a variety of exciting new features.

In addition to the recent roll-out of real-time Twitter two-way interaction and Facebook dynamic posting (which can now all be automated and customized), this past week the forward-thinking (and obviously hard working) team at Friendfeed continued to add even more, making it possible to share and discuss with others from just about anywhere.

The potential of Friendfeed becoming the predominant 'social hub' on the Internet is becoming more and more likely each week.

The key to using and understanding Friendfeed is that the USER has ALL of the controls, allowing you to tailor the service to what YOU want to see, share and discuss at your option.

Due the many new feature roll-outs, some newer users may experience a short learning curve, but in this author's opinion, in the long run, Friendfeed will become a time-saver for many, as the service continues to 'connect' to other places on the web.

This past Monday, Friendfeed updated the popular 'real-time feed' (based on user feedback), allowing expansion of posts by simply clicking on the 'chat bubble'.  Also, by using Friendfeed's updated bookmarklet, users can now embed videos from Comedy Central, College Humor, the Onion, and Metacafe directly into their streams.  (Friendfeed has become a pretty funny place lately and in this economy... who couldn't use a few laughs ??)

During the week, those importing their BrightKite locations (and others with the appropriate tags) were greeted with a 'mini' Google map appearing in their posts.

Then late last night, Friendfeed launched IM (you read that right - Not DM .... IM!) and while many 'early adopters' were still testing it this morning, it's a whole new connection.

Compatible with Google Talk and Jabber, you can chose which Friendfeed content you wish to see 'pop up' (all, friends, or everyone) and comment back OR post directly in my case, from GMail (below):

click to enlarge

While this could become a little overwhelming (I was 'beeping' about every 2 seconds?! :), once again, the new features can all  be tailored to suit YOUR desires, providing yet another two-way channel to interact with your friend list (or everyone) on Friendfeed, and you can pause it any time you wish.

So, while sharing your choice of up to 48 services or posting text, audio or photos directly to Friendfeed, the rapidly growing community is now embracing a variety of two-way vehicles.

The key to using Friendfeed effectively for most is to 'join the conversation'.

They just made it easier .... again.

More details can be found at the Friendfeed blog here.

Edited 10:41 ET cba

Thursday, November 6, 2008

They're in NY - If you can find them - The Verizon Storm

The heavily anticipated Blackberry Storm is just days away from appearing at your local retailer, possibly even sooner.

Seeking to capture as much of the US cellphone market share as possible, Verizon today dropped the prices (significantly) on a host of other Blackberry and other 'SmartPhone' devices.

The nation's largest cell carrier (after the closing of the acquisition of Alltel) has it's eyes set straight on the iPhone market. The timing, just before Christmas, couldn't be better.

Announced months ago, the 'Storm' is a touch-screen Blackberry device with a 3.25 inch LCD Hi-Resolution HVGA display.  1 GB of memory (expandable) is standard and includes a 3.2 MP camera (with zoom and flash)..  Bluetooth, a full HTML web browser, Facebook anf Flickr apps are integrated as well.

The Blackberry Software set (4.7) which allows editing of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files and the Verizon 'VZ  Navigator' audible GPS system is onboard as well.

The big difference?  Verizon's Storm operates on a large group of US (and Worldwide) cell frequencies including EvDO Rev A, GSM, GRPS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA and MSM7600.

Battery life can be as much as 15 days on standby with approximately 6 hours of 'talk' time.

While AT&T can still claim the largest worldwide 3G coverage, Verizon's high-speed and fringe network footprint here in the US is larger, especially away from the Interstate highways and primary cities.

So, while many of us that travel these areas have been a little hesitant to get an iPhone, the 'Storm' could be a huge hit for Verizon as they quietly continue ramping up the promotions.

Earlier today, Verizon 'hid' 45 Blackberry Storms throughout New York City.  Once you 'find one', you have a chance to enter a sweepstakes to win your own Storm (or other prizes).  The more you find, the better your chances (one entry per day from November 6th through November 15th).  A map will be launched on the website soon.

With retailers moving up the Christmas shopping season in an attempt to lure some customers and competition heating up in US wireless, it's our guess that the Storm 'could' be available in some locations as early as tomorrow.

For those who are a little more 'frugal', other Verizon-based Blackberry devices (including the LG env2) are now available FREE in many markets with a two year contract.

Watch this phone to be a very HOT holiday item as word gets out quickly over the next few days.

Update 1:  Verizon just updated the Storm webpage confirming the specs above and the NYC phone hunt here.

Update 2: Verizon issued a press release early yesterday providing more details about the Blackberry Storm and Global capabilities which can be found below:

"New BlackBerry Storm - Available Exclusively in the U.S. to Verizon Wireless Customers - Makes Globetrotting a Breeze

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Whether traveling to Europe for an international conference or to Asia for a business meeting, the BlackBerry Storm from Verizon Wireless will give globetrotters the freedom of reliable global connectivity in a single, stylish handset. With the launch of the BlackBerry Storm, customers can use the world's first "clickable" touch-screen BlackBerry smartphone to connect to their offices and homes in more than 200 destinations for voice and more than 150 destinations for data worldwide. The BlackBerry Storm allows for roaming in South America and Japan and also provides 3G data speeds on select international networks, giving customers high-speed connectivity when they are abroad.

The Storm comes pre-installed with a SIM card, so customers who plan to travel abroad can activate global service at the time of purchase or by calling Verizon Wireless prior to leaving the U.S. For those who travel abroad frequently, the company's Global Value Plan offers discounted roaming charges on calls made to and from 130 countries for just $4.99 a month.

Verizon Wireless customers traveling for business or pleasure in both the U.S. and abroad can use GlobalEmail on their BlackBerry Storms to access corporate e-mail attachments as well as personal or POP3 e-mail accounts. Verizon Wireless' unlimited GlobalEmail Plan offers one flat-rate data pricing and covers Web browsing, picture messaging and Visual Voice Mail in the U.S. as well as overseas. Verizon Wireless' GlobalEmail Data Plans are available for $69.99 monthly access for a stand-alone data plan and $64.99 monthly access when added to any voice plan.

Business customers with five or more lines of service will be able to purchase a GlobalEmail Plan for their BlackBerry Storms by calling their Business Sales Representatives at 1-800-899-4249.

To learn more or register to be notified when the BlackBerry Storm is available, visit or For more information on Verizon Wireless' international services, please visit"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Editorial - Challenges ahead for President-elect Obama

In what has been noted as the largest election turnout in 90 years (since women won the right to vote), Barack Obama a short time ago became President-elect of the United States of America.

To many older Americans, it was probably a moment that they probably never thought they would see in their lifetime.  It was not purely a race issue, it was very simply a generation of Americans, many of whom simply didn't think it was possible for an African-American to ever reach the Presidency. It was the way they grew up.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

There is no doubting that Barack Obama knows how to reach an audience and that personality trait will be all-important in the coming weeks and months, as a necessary healing process (hopefully) begins. 

Our country has been divided too long. Recent election numbers tell that story all too clearly. Popular vote counts were incredibly close.  This division doesn't solve problems, it causes them.  Partisan politics is, and has been, out of control for some time.

A few brave leaders, yes including Senator McCain, have often crosses those lines to achieve necessary compromise.  It needs to go further.

A strong commitment to bridging the gap between our two major politic parties is the greatest challenge to our country's next President.  Restoring faith, and moderating the greed and fear that has permeated our society.

An understanding of the differences between those in urban, suburban and rural america, all too evident in this (early) morning's election map, needs to be understood and addressed in a prompt manner in order for the next leader of our country to be truly successful.

The 'game' needs to change.  Democrats need to embrace their Republican colleagues (and visa versa) in a new way while continuing the important debates over the very serious and immediate issues that face our country, and the world.

This President is facing some of the most difficult challenges that we've seen in several decades and with our economic system now being global, the world will be watching and waiting as well.

In my lifetime, there have been great communicators in the White House.  John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan overcame incredible obstacles by surrounding themselves with 'the best of the best' and then 'working the phones' with Congress and leaders of other nations, to solve difficult, and at times, seemingly impossible challenges.

I have great faith in our country.  Being in the Tech Sector for many years makes you realize that if you don't embrace change (as evidenced by the growth and sheer impact of the Internet), you will be left behind.

It is my hope in these early hours that the promised change can touch the lives of as many Americans as possible as well as those around the world.  America has always had enemies.  We've seen biggr challenges. 

We need to restore the respect and understanding of our culture and do our best to eliminate hate and/or unfounded jealousy.

My prayers go out to the next administration along with true hope. 

The younger generation, in particular, needs to be reassured, sooner than later, that their own future, and the future of the world just got brighter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Economic Downturn? Twitter is hiring and more (Updated)

Twitter, the popular microblogging service that many had written off 'as good as gone' earlier this year (due to numerous overload and downtime problems) is now up and running smoothly, growing rapidly, gaining widespread acceptance, as well as crossing numerous demographic lines.

We previously noted the adoption of Twitter by CNN's Rick Sanchez for his live TV program. A large audience found Twitter as CNN used it regularly for user interaction. (CNN was quickly followed by numerous other news and media outlets).  According to this 'room' on Friendfeed, there are now more than 20 CNN reporters, producers, and other CNN employees posting updates and comments to Twitter.

Of course, the US elections didn't hurt Twitter's growth (and ability to prove that 'the system' was now stable) , with thousands of people posting their views to Twitter over the past month after Twitter launched their own Election 2008 'tweet' real-time commenting platform.

Friendfeed saw some action as well, as people posted cellphone photos of lines they were standing on.

Another independent team announced an extensive Election 2008 website using the Twitter API to bring together a large group of election watchers, various organizations and websites and will be monitoring voter 'tweets' throughout the day.

Twitter Vote Report is a non-partisan, all-volunteer network aimed not only at highlighting voting 'problems' but good voting experiences as well, in an all-new graphical format.'s updating in nanoseconds with all kinds of comments as of this post ...

Numerous partners include Zetetic, Womens Voice Women Vote, Women Donors Network, Why Tuesday, David Troy's Twittervision,,, Student PIRG's New Voters Project, Ohio Telecom, The League of Young Voters, Credo Mobile, NPR, , TechPresident, GeoCommons, and many more

Perhaps the most significant news from Twitter amidst this 'sea of economic downturn news' was that  Twitter is hiring.

In addition, has now launched a Twitter app, and on Wednesday morning, Twitter board member Bijan Sabet will be hosting a 'Tweet Up' at the Andala Coffee House in Cambridge, MA from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM, to "discuss Twitter as a consumer communication utility as well as a utility for applications and services".

Along with an unprecedented number of polls, blogs and websites reporting on the election today, you may want to check out some of the ongoing twitter interation and

Update:  Thanks to Robert Scoble for pointing out that the real-time beta Friendfeed feed is also hoppin' with comments !!

edited for content cba November 4 PM Election Day 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ACER continues to defy the downturn

Taiwan-based ACER Inc. continued it's rapid growth trend, reporting impressive earnings late Friday.

The company which employs a somewhat unique direct-to-retailer, minimal advertising marketing model (as well as demonstrating continued reliable quality control), has been top-4 player in the global laptop market alongside Dell, HP and Apple for much of 2008.

Friday's report of 4% growth in net profit, while disappointing some analysts, was still impressive as the company concentrated on providing feature-rich products while maintaining some of the best price points in the field, and during a period when laptop sales caught up with desktops for the first time ever.

Many ACER models appearing in the US were initially supported only by Acer-Europe's website, with the US website still 'playing catch-up'. The company has been agggressive in issuing regular updates for Microsoft Windows Vista and Vista SP1 drivers as well as BIOS updates at the Acer Euro Site.

ACER trades on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and closed up 6.98 per cent at the end of trading Friday.

Sony recalls another 100,000 laptop batteries

Sony announced a voluntary recall late last week of 100,000 2.15 Ah lithium ion batteries used in laptops produced by H-P, Dell and Toshiba.

The battery modules could pose a burn and/or fire risk.

These 'unique' batteries are not the same units as those involved in the somewhat memorable (and much larger) recall initiated by Sony in 2006.

35,000 of the batteries were sold in the US with an additional 65,000 worldwide.

The US Consumer Product and Safety Commission has posted an excellent page with photos of the three manufacturers batteries, model numbers and well as contact information, which is now online and can be accessed here.

Update 1: Some news reports are indicating that the Sony batteries were also used in Acer and Lenovo products as well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

WordPress 2.7 delayed - Beta 1 is available

The first public beta of WordPress Version 2.7 was announced late yesterday.

For those that want to get a headstart and help test the latest version of WordPress (probably not a good idea to do with your public or main blog yet), the download is available from the WordPress Blog here.

Currently 'tuned' for best viewing in Firefox and Safari, the team is still working out some 'viewing glitches' in other browsers (including some versions on Internet Explorer).

The final version of Wordpress 2.7 was expected to be released on November 10th but has now been  delayed to fix any 'high-impact' bugs. The WordPress team is targeting the end-of-November.

The current stable version of WordPress is 2.6.3.