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« November 2004 | Main | January 2005 »

The demise of the podcast

Silicon Valley Sleuth seems to have an ally in The Boston Phoenix in his non-understanding of the podcasting hype.

Author Dan Kennedy takes a closer look at the phenomenon, and in particular at the "inventor" of the podcast Adam Curry. Kennedy refers to another article about podcasting in Wired magazine, in which Curry shows the Wired reporter how a podcast is made. "You see how easy it is to fill up 10 minutes of MP3 space?" he says. "We just did 10 minutes. It’s easy. It’s easy. And people eat this shit up."

Kennedy remains civil about Curry's show: "it can be somewhat less compelling than its host might wish." But let's face it. It's boring as hell.

December 30, 2004 at 09:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hoax and Google don't mix

Running a good hoax was just plain fun in the age of the no frills website. But it's no joking matter in the era of the weblogs, Alek Komarnitsky found out.

The computer specialist from Denver claimed to allow internet visitors to control the lights in his Christmas tree. In reality, he just used different photos that were supposed to pass for webcam pictures.

You have to give the guy kudos for the extent to which he took his little scam. The Associated Press wrote: "To make it seem even more real, he would sometimes add an image of a person or a car driving by in the Web cam "shot" looking at the lights. He would even add computer-generated low-flying planes because an airport was near his home."

Komarnitsky finally decided to come clean, telling the Wall Street Journal that it had gotten "a little out of hand."

But in the age of Google ads, it turns out that Komarnitsky is in more trouble than he counted on. He ran Google ads on his webpage, and neither Google nor the advertisers are amused. "Finding out he's making a buck off of something that costs us a buck, it's not very cool," Paul McLellan, general manager of Minneapolis-based told AP.

December 30, 2004 at 08:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Triple play is for losers. Observe the quadruple play

Queue the Carmina Burana. Time Warner Cable is on the verge of entering the mobile phone market, reports the Wall Street Journal. (paid subscription)

Hit play now. Turn up the volume. Hear the music reach its climax while your neighbours go crazy.

Adding mobile phone service to their product line up makes Time Warner the only US operator that has the quadruple play: a combination of traditional and wireless telephony, television and internet access. The deal will make Time Warner the only company to reach the fourth stage of playfulness, the holiest of the holiest in the world of the telecommunications.

The brave citizens of Kansas City will be the first to feast on the bundled services, some time in early 2005. Sprint will provide the Time Warner Cable branded mobile service.

Combining several services gives consumers the benefit of a single invoice and a single helpdesk to threaten when things go wrong. Operators often offer discounts to customers who subscribe to more than one service.

Carriers expect that customers that subscribe to several services are less likely to switch providers. They also are cheaper to manage and increase the revenue per customer.

December 30, 2004 at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maybe we should have stuck to Craig Conway

Duffield must have longed for a quiet Christmas, because on 21 December the Peoplesoft CEO resigned.
In his three month tenure he succeeded at getting a higher price for the company: $10.3 bn instead of the $9.3 bn Oracle initially offered. Peoplesoft disclosed the news in single phrase in a SEC filing that IDG News took home for some bedtime reading.

Duffield founded Peoplesoft in 1987 and stepped down in May 1999. Conway was at the helm between 1999 and October 2004.

Conway ferociously battled the hostile takeover bid by Oracle. He was fired after the board of directors lost faith in him. Soon after he left, Oracle and Peoplesoft inked that deal that made all of Conway's efforts useless.

In related news, Oracle on Wednesday gained a controlling 75 percent stake in Peoplesoft.

December 30, 2004 at 08:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

An Apple computer for the low low price of $499?

There is more than just CES in Las Vegas on the horizon. The first week of January may be the one for consumer electronics, the second one traditionally is Apple's with MacWorld in San Francisco. And as it goes with any big Apple event, the rumour mills are working overtime.

Most baseless gossips point to Apple launching a flash memory based iPod. But the folks at Think Secret claim Apple has more surprises up its sleeve and plans to unveil a sub $500 iMac computer.

The device won't include a monitor and features a 1.25 Ghz G4 processor and the acclaimed (and void of computer viruses and worms) OS X operating system. For the project that's codenamed Q88 Apple will abandon its strategy of including the display in the computer case, putting the computer hardware in a 1.75 inch high computer case instead.

We'll find out if there is any truth in these speculations in two weeks.

December 30, 2004 at 07:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eight tips to get through the holidays

If you're even somewhat of a computer geek, chances are that the holiday season marks your annual rite of computer related help requests from friends, in-laws and family. For all you amateur IT helpdesk staffers, Ross Mayfield has 8 tops to make your life a little easier. Mayfield is CEO of Socialtext, a startup that does something exotic called "Enterprise Social Software".

The red line in his advice: keep it simple, stupid! Kill all software that's known for its security issues and/or complexity: use a Mac, switch to FireFox and abandon Outlook for webmail.

His final piece of advice (Don't set them up with a blog) goes further than just this one over-hyped technology. Don't shove some cool technology down your friends throats just because you think it's cool or usefull. Technology is here to make life easier. Tech for the sake of tech was something of the last millennium.

December 29, 2004 at 10:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Techies answer the call of the ice cream truck

Is an area known for its innovative ideas and entrepreneurship falling for the surrogate thing? The rising interest for setting up franchise retail stores in the Silicon Valley area such as Baskin-Robbins certainly points in that direction.

Seventy five percent of the entrepreneurs seeking to buy into a franchise formula in the San Francisco Bay Area have a background in technology, according to FranNet, a franchise consulting group.

The laid of tech workers have lost faith in the job security of big corporations and hope that there is a better future in being self-employed. "[The entrepreneurs] choose franchises because it's a proven system. They're given training and a formula for succes,'' FranNet president Joan Young told The San Jose Mercury News.

Running a franchise retail store offers some middle ground between founding a new company and old-fashioned employment. In a sense, the franchise is entrepreneurship for dummies. Is dummy-filled Silicon Valley next?

December 29, 2004 at 08:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Christmas present for hackers

That new PC that you got for Christmas is a gift not just for you, warns Wired. Hackers consider the holidays their prime hunting season because computer users are so eager to start using their new toys that they forget to put the proper protections in place.

Hacker attacks start picking up around Thanksgiving, claims Wired, with the extra activity continuing through the Christmas season.

Especially first time computer users are an easy prey for hackers, attracting all the scams on the market from phising attacks to spammers selling pen!$ enhancement pills.

December 29, 2004 at 08:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

The year of the voip

Here something that's bound to surprise you: you're not the only one who's fed up with the service from you telephony monopolist. Therefore, 2005 will become the year of Voice over IP telephone, predicts the San Jose Mercury News in its predictions of the hot techs for next years.

The number of US VoIP customers is set to reach 2 million next year, allowing for the technology to grow beyond its current geek audience.

December 28, 2004 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tech strikes back

Although the geeks in Silicon Valley never realised that technology wasn't, the online publication declared 2004 the year technology became cool again.

Presidential hopeful Howard Dean proved that the internet can be a powerful tool in mobilising your constituents and collecting campaign donations. Google proved that investors can still act as mindless lemmings when a hot technology stock comes around. Camera phones proved to be still completely useless, but nonetheless are nice toys to create a moblog. Don't forget WiFi as the technology that enabled all of us to stay online while we are sipping at our $4 cups of coffee at Starbucks.

December 28, 2004 at 11:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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