Friday, April 29, 2005

Podcast explosions

This post on AdJab details how Clear Channel will be podcasting programs complete with ads.  Unless they’re posting them in some sort of DRM format that can be read into an audio editor, I would expect to see people removing ads and posting “clean” copies of the podcasts — perhaps they should be investigating product placement (verbally, of course) within the show content.

Ktoddstorch @ business thoughts posts about these various podcasts:



Free Tiger installation done by the experts

This article on USAToday reports that if you purchase a copy of the new OSX Tiger operating system in a Apple Retail Store, the Apple guys at the Genius Bar will handle the upgrade for you.  If you don’t feel comfortable with doing the upgrade yourself (you can get a copy of Tiger at CompUSA tonight for $99 6PM-10PM after rebates), you can pay full price at the Apple Retail Store and get the installation for free.

I’ve never seen this sort of offer by anyone else, certainly not for Windows.  The offer runs tonight through May 31 and will be fulfilled through June.

Brilliant marketing.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Carbon Copy Cloner

TUAW posted about an application for OSX called Carbon Copy Cloner that creates a full image of your OSX computer: probably a good idea to use if you are upgrading to Tiger.  The only problem is that the software is not currently compatible with Tiger, but if you wind up not wanting to stick with Tiger and you clone your system to external drive, you can boot from that drive and restore the old OSX system.  CCC’s author is currently working on Tiger compatibility and you can’t beat the price (i.e., it’s free).

Access and run your Mac with Palm

TUAW has this post (full  how-to details here) about accessing and running your Mac remotely using nothing more than the included OSXvnc client and a Palm device running PalmVNC. 

So here’s the big question: Does it work with the Treo 650?


Stumbled across XtraGoogle — essentially the site allows you to do single click searching of all the various different areas of Google.  I didn’t really even know that Google had a MP3 search, a Windows search, a Macintosh search, etc., but this site is a really easy, graphical way to access everything I mentioned and more.

The great part about this site is that anyone could do this — Google allows (encourages) people to use their systems.  Although XtraGoogle does not appear to be running any banner or contextual advertising to make money, they certainly could be making money with the search portion of AdSense.

Dave Matthews finally on iTMS

That’s right, you too can download the new single American Baby from Dave Matthews Band’s newest album Stand Up, which will be available in its entirety on iTMS in May (the way iTMS is saying it, it sounds like the only online store you’ll be able to download the album from will be iTMS).  It will be interesting to see if DMB adds a bunch of their back catalogue to iTMS after the new record is released.

Blogjet does not check spelling in titles

I don’t know why it took so long for me to realize this, but Blogjet does not check the spelling of words in the title of posts.  Thanks to Chris who left a comment about my wierd spelling of weird in my post yesterday for helping me realize this (also thanks to Chris for telling me to clear my browser cache in order to fix the Firefox/Gmail problem).

I will have to be more diligent in actually proofreading my titles now knowing that I do not enjoy the security blanket of spell check to look after me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wierd GMail problem

Since yesterday afternoon I’ve been getting errors when I try to access GMail with Firefox; works fine with IE, but I hate using IE.  This sucks.

The specific error I get is:

“The file /gmail?view=page&name=js&ver=a40b66e26b1f9e33 cannot be found.  Please check the location and try again.”

Anyone having the same problems or have any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New ideas about business cards

From this article on USA Today:

What's the most important marketing item you have? Here's a hint: it's small, inexpensive, and you probably haven't given it much thought. It's your business card.

Most of us think of business cards as just a reference document: a means of conveying basic information people need in order to contact us. We rarely design our business card with the idea that it will be a marketing tool.

Looking at your business cards as a marketing piece opens up a new way of thinking about that small piece of cardboard.

One cool example that I’ve seen of this is high-end hotels that will print a business card with their logo, your name, and your hotel phone number with the text “In Residence.”  The cost is insignificant when compared to the cost of the room, but winds up being a marketing tool that is distributed by their own guests.

From the article:

Once upon a time, people only put their name, company name, address, and one phone number on a business card. Then came fax numbers, email addresses, cell phone numbers, Web sites.

All that information isn't absolutely necessary. Too much information forces you to use tiny type.

So what should you include?  Again from the article:

  • Color
  • Logo
  • Don’t necessarily worry about the reverse, but make sure you can write on it

I was recently looking at doing plastic business cards as a differentiating device, but realized that I tend to write a lot of information on the back of cards when I give them to people, something that it impossible with plastic cards unless I always carry a Sharpie.

More than once I have received cards with just a name and phone number on them; they are kind of cool because they are a little cryptic (like what you read about in spy novels), but do nothing to promote a brand.

I’d like to find a card carrier the has separators to support multiple business cards for different cards; I find myself putting my blog address on the back of a lot of my cards and should probably just have a card with the website address and e-mail on it by itself.

37 Signals Backpack preview

37 Signals has posted a preview complete with screenshots of their new Backpack software.  The preview shows how you can send an e-mail to your Backpack from a mobile device with to-do list items and how Backpack will turn the items in the body of the e-mail into to-do list items.  This sums it up nicely:

Backpack will receive an email and turn it into something useful on the web. This isn’t just about posting flat content to the web via email, it’s about turning flat emails into functional web pages.

Can’t wait to see some of the further functionality.

Monday, April 25, 2005

GM mass recall

For my fellow GM truck and SUV owners and drivers via this post on AutoBlog:

If you have virtually any 2003-2005 GM SUV or crew cab truck you’ll probably be getting a recall notice. 1.5 million 2003-2005 Chevy Silverado Crew Cabs, Suburbans, Tahoes, Avalanches, Cadillac Escalades, Escalade ESVs, Escalade EXTs, GMC Sierra Crew Cabs, Yukons, Yukon XLs and Hummer H2s have been recalled for faulty rear safety belts that don’t protect passengers adequately. No one has been injured as a result.

If you have remaining factory warranty, recalls are always a good time to have dealers fix other little problems, which is really the only bright side.


I’m not 100% sure how I happened across MuvAudio, but it’s pretty cool software.  Essentially, MuvAudio records the audio from any item that runs through Windows Media Player into various different audio formats.  I’ve tried the software and it works very well — you will need to have the .NET framework installed — and costs nothing.  One note of caution: the application is pretty resource intensive and you may not want to be trying to do other things unless you have a powerful machine with lots of RAM. monitors your home alarm system via a wireless data network, negating the need for a landline.  This can be especially useful for people like me that use Vonage and Skype because alarm system do not work well with VOIP.  Monthly monitoring fees are $24.95, which is about the same as ADT, but allows you to receive e-mail or text message notifications about alarms as well as administer your system via their website.  Looking at the self-install option for the equipment, the price is pretty hefty at $479 for the base unit, 2 window/door sensors, 1 wireless motion sensor, and 1 keychain remote; professional install options are also available.

Nice to know that a landline-free option is available, but you might just want to consider getting a pure-bread big dog for the price of the equipment.

Apparently blogs will change your business

BusinessWeek is just catching on in this story for those of you that may have missed this on many other blog posts last week.  Here’s a picture of the magazine cover from this post on Micropersuasion:


My trash didn’t get picked up on Friday and by the time I got home and realized it, the trash company was closed until Monday morning.  I called when I woke up, navigated the phone tree, and finally got a live person — I told her my trash hadn’t been picked up, so she proceeded to ask the following:

  • What time did you put the trash out on Friday?  I replied that I had put it out on Thursday night.
  • Were the trashcans obstructed?  I replied that they had been left out on the curb and the my wife thought she had seen the garbage truck go by the house without stopping.

Apparently I gave the right answers to my pop mini quiz and was instructed to put the trash out again so they could pick it up today.  Here’s the thing: I pay for a service to happen on a certain day; it even says the day of pickup on my bill.  If I were to simply neglect to pay the bill to the trash company, wait until a collector called, and then told them to send me out another bill, I don’t think that they would be very understanding because they had done everything correctly to invoice me.

Frustrating, but I’m sure it will get picked up today.

Reimagine the umbrella

From this post on Engadget:

Andy Wana’s Lotus 23 may be the true way to go. The device won the Gold 2005 Australian Design Award for its fully retractable umbrella screen, which is pushed out of its housing tube-worm style; flexible ribs stand up to harsh winds, instead of breaking and buckling.

No word on where to purchase it or what the price is. 

Friday, April 22, 2005

RSS active on my Gmail account

I profess absolutely no knowledge of Google’s process for activating new features for Gmail, but when I logged in today, I had the RSS functionality I was talking about a couple of days ago.  Once I saw that I had it, I immediately wanted to change it, so I discovered the new “Web Clips” option in my “Settings” (right next to your e-mail address in the upper corner).

I guess it’s sort of cool to have feed data flash across the top of the screen when I’m logged into Gmail, but beyond that, I don’t find a hell of a lot of value with the RSS support yet — when I click on a headline, it just takes me to the blog post.  Certainly no enough functionality yet to inspire me to switch from Bloglines, but I remain hopeful that more features will be added soon..

Beer can interface

According to this post on Boing Boing, Grolsch has developed:

. . .  a hot-swappable bottle interface for their beer cans.

Nothing like applying a ridiculous amount of propellorhead-ease to beer to brighten up your day.

Sort of like putting a nipple on a beer can, except way more high-tech.


Didn't win

I did not win one the Treo 650s that Palm was giving away the other day even though I entered about 67 times with various e-mail addresses, however, I did “win” several 15% off coupons for the Palm store.  This means that if I want an unlocked 650, it’s $699 less $104.85 for a total cost of $594.15, which is still pretty steep, but does get me a device with no subsidy lock.  Alternatively, I could go with Cingular for $499 (with one year agreement) less $74.85 for a total cost of $424.15, but in order to have them unlock the phone, I have to navigate through their phone tree hell and need to be a customer in good standing (not worried about that) for a minimum of 90 days.

Hard to decide, really.  If the Blackberry client for the Treo were available, I’d probably pull the trigger today, but no one seems to have any idea when that software will be released in the US.

I have until April 26 before the coupons expire, so I guess I’ll have to think a little more about it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

For all the iTMS naysayers . . .

. . . here’s a pretty good point from this post by Dan Gillmor:

The bottom line is that Apple, beholden to the copyright cartel, reserves the right to screw over its customers whenever it pleases. You can blame America's insane copyright laws for this, not just Apple's way of doing things.

Useful tidbits

Free MP3s from Amazon via this post on Lifehacker.

Make your own OSX-like buttons with this online tool via this post on Lifehacker.

Gasbuddy will help you find the cheapest gas in your ZIP code (provided you live in the US or Canada) via this post on Lifehacker.

A ridiculous number of everyday tips at this post on Monkeyfilter — go read them all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Gmail RSS?

According to this post on Slashdot, some Gmail users are seeing a “Web Clips” part at the top of their Inbox.  Evan Williams, formerly of Blogger, posted this screenshot and has this to say on his blog post about Gmail RSS:

You can add your own feeds and/or choose from their selection. It also swaps between feed headlines and ads, which is pretty clever, cuz it gets you looking at the ads a lot more (I've found). Each is labeled, of course. Nice.

I haven’t seen this on my Gmail account, which means that they have not activated it yet for me (that would be the same reason many of you haven’t seen it) — can’t wait to play around with it.


The name’s pretty damn funny, but Rasterbator, according to this post on Lifehacker, will create a poster-size printable display from an image.  Basically the service turns the image you want poster-size into a series of 8.5x11 pages within a PDF file.  I can think of all kinds of cool uses for this and I tried the online service, which works perfectly fine; if you are going to do a lot of this, they also offer a Windows application download that will keep you from being queued on their site.

Win a radio contest

From this post on Lifehacker:

Radio hosts prefer winners who sound excited. So if you call a station and sound fun, there's a better chance of not only winning but getting on air as well. The whole "caller 9" thing is mostly a filtering trick, allowing the host to tell boring-sounding people "you're caller number 7, sorry."

Armed with that knowledge, go reap the rewards.

Airport event sponsorship

Ross Mayfield details in this post on his blog how he carries around an Airport Express that’s named after his company.  When at a conference that does not provide free wireless internet access, Ross plugs in his Airport and becomes the unofficial sponsor of free internet access for people at the conference, receiving free advertising without paying any sort of event sponsorship fee.  Now that the cat’s out of the bag, there’s no real reason that any event organizer can complain.


I saw this post on TUAW about AppleJack, which is a troubleshooting utility for OSX.  The best part is that it operates from the command line, so it will work even when I can’t get the GUI to load.  Cool.

Google Account

I noticed a few days ago that I was signing into my Gmail account using my “Google Account.’  Having never signed up for a Google Account, I simply assumed that Google was essentially calling that the Gmail sign-on service and would potentially be adding other services.  I noticed this post on the Google Blog that details other features of the Google Account:

When you're signed in to your Google Account, you can use My Search History wherever you go. An additional bit of fun: try the handy calendar to check the level of your Google activity on a given day, or see related searches you've done over time. Look for the link in the upper right corner of your Google web search home page and results pages.

I’ll have to give these features a try now that I know they exist (I’m by no means saying that features like this are new, but they are new to me).


Got the title of the post from Dr. Drew on Love Line, but it seems to be the best word to describe this post on Boing Boing; check it out:

The MPA and IFPI (international versions of the MPAA and RIAA, respectively), has produced a report describing the code of conduct they'd like ISPs to embrace:

  •  remove references and links to sites or services that do not respect the copyrights of rights holders.
  • require subscribers to consent in advance to the disclosure of their identity in response to a reasonable complaint of intellectual property infringement by an established right holder defence organisation or by right holder(s) whose intellectual property is being infringed
  • terminate contracts of recidivist
  • implement instant messaging to communicate with infringers
  • implement filtering technologies to block sites that are 'substantially dedicated to illegal file sharing or download services.
  • voluntarily store data for copyright enforcement...
  • To enforce terms of service that prohibit a subscriber from operating a server, or from consuming excessive amounts of bandwidth where such consumption is a good indicator of infringing activities.

Give me a break.  It’s amazing that they actually think ISPs would do this.  Perhaps they are just using this to set up a forthcoming lawsuit.

Reimagine the pill bottle

How do you build a better pill bottle?  Target commissioned designers to do just that, and according to this article on New York Metro, this is how they did it (number below correspond to the number on the bottle):

  1. Easy I.D. — The name of the drug is printed on the top of the bottle, so it’s visible if kept in a drawer.
  2. Code red — A universal symbol for caution (and Target’s signature color, of course).
  3. Information hierarchy — divide the label into primary and secondary positions, separated by a horizontal line. The most important information (drug name, dosage, intake instructions) is placed above the line, and less important data (quantity, expiration date, doctor’s name) is positioned below.
  4. Upside down to save paper —  An upside-down label that stands on its cap, so that the label can be wrapped around the top. Every piece of paper in the package adds up to one eight-and-a-half-by-fourteen-inch perforated sheet, which eliminates waste and makes life easier for pharmacists.
  5. Green is for Grandma — A system of six colored rubber rings that attach to the neck of the bottle. Family members choose their own identifying shade, so medications in a shared bathroom will never get mixed up.
  6. An info card that’s hard to lose — A card with more detailed information on a drug (common uses, side effects) is now tucked behind the label. A separate, expanded patient-education sheet comes with three holes so it can be saved in a binder for reference.
  7. Take “daily.” — Avoided using the word “once” on the label, since it means eleven in Spanish.
  8. Clear warnings —  Revamped the 25 most important.

At the end of the project, and the end of the list above, it’s clear that the designers have really revamped a whole lot of the consumer side of the prescription process.  Will this be a differentiating factor for Target?  Maybe.  I don’t know if it will be for me.  But then I think about all the people out there that have to take lots of pills on a daily basis; I bet this will be a huge deal for them — everything else (read “price”) being equal, if I took lots of pills, I’d probably go to Target just to get all of the features listed above.

Did anyone know that they wanted a new pill bottle?  Nope.  And that’s what makes this so cool; a perfect example of building a better mousetrap.  Simply put with the title of this post on Seth Godin’s blog: “Target Gets Remarkable.”

These bottles will be available at Target pharmacies on May 1.

All of this originally started with this post on Boing Boing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Check out InterCasting

InterCasting is run by one of my good friends, Shawn Conahan, who serves as founder, Chairman, and CEO.  You can read what Shawn has personally to say about user-generated mobile media in their blog.  What’s Intercasting all about?  Just to get you interested, here’s a little blurb:

In the always-on, always-with-you mobile world, media is interactive, ordinary people create it and location matters. The value of a channel is determined by how many meaningful connections it makes. We call it InterCasting.

The mobile phone is evolving into a media production and consumption device. Hardly a “phone” anymore, it is a Personal Media Device (PMD). In a few years there will be over a billion people walking around with the equivalent of a radio station, film studio and broadcast network in their pockets, and our definition of “media” is going to change dramatically.

Pretty cool stuff.

Why isn't every carrier doing this?

I just saw the T-Mobile Personal Coverage page, which allows you to enter an address or intersection and check the predicted signal strength in that area.  There’s really no reason why any of the other carriers couldn’t support something like this, but for now it’s certainly a competitive advantage for T-Mobile.

A Treo 650 every 5 minutes

PlamOne is giving away a free Treo 650 every 5 minutes today from 12:00PM EDT until 12:00AM EDT.  Here’s the site.  Now don’t enter until I’ve told you that I’ve already won one.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Blackberry frustrations

While I await the activation of our Exchange 2003 server with ActiveSync or the release of the Blackberry client for the Treo 650, I am using a Blackberry 7520 with Nextel service.  Every time I have to generate a new encryption key, the send function on the Blackberry ceases functioning and returns a decryption error (everything else works, but I can’t send anything without getting the error).  This problem is solved by having my server guys delete my PIN from the Blackberry server and re-add it manually (pain in the ass); it works until the next time the desktop software prompts me to generate a new key.


Any suggestions?

Will the Sony boombox be AAC-compatible?

Seems like there’s a lot of split opinions on this, but this post on TUAW states that the Sony NAS-CZ1 will support the Apple iTunes DRM scheme.  If this actually happens, it will be the first non-Apple produced piece of hardware that supports the protocol (unless the iTunes phone by Motorola gets released sometime).  Here’s the picture from the TUAW post:

Does this begin to signal a shift by Apple to opening up its DRM standard?  We’ll see what happens, but don’t expect to see AAC compatibility in Windows Media Player anytime soon.

Adobe's acquiring Macromedia

Everyone’s reporting this, so I’m not linking to every post or article.  I will say this: It’s going to be damn hard to do a lot of online stuff without interacting with a Adobe/Macromedia product — Flash and PDFs are everywhere.


This is pretty cool:

Picture and information from this post on Gizmodo:

. . . light-collecting panels which you install on your roof, allowing them to feed a remote part of your house with the purest of natural light. The Skyport system uses SunWire—"light transporting cable" (read: fiber optics)—to bring sunlight to its connected "luminaries". Björks, as they're called, are specially designed to generate a light output of up to 4,000 lux, presumably on a clear day. The SunWire allows for you to distribute sunlight up to three stories down into a building and the Björks come in three different shapes, letting you maximize light output for a particular room's layout.

No pricing or availability out yet, but certainly cooler than the now-low-tech-seeming Sun Pipe.

A bluetooth headset that is not quite as ugly

After my rant on really ugly Bluetooth headsets, I’m excited to see the new Flamingo Bluetooth Headset — it fits into the ear, the form-factor is small,  and it weighs 10 grams.  According to this post on Engadget, the headset features an 8–hour talk time and 130–hour standby time, along with a $130 pricetag.

Picture from the Engadget post:

Public beta of SkypeIn and Skype voicemail

From the official Skype announcement:

SkypeIn provides an affordable, flexible alternative to costly mobile phone roaming charges with SkypeIn personal numbers. SkypeIn customers can receive inbound calls to their Skype client from ordinary fixed telephones or mobile phones while they travel worldwide, providing seamless interconnectivity without having to pay costly roaming charges. Skype Voicemail enables users to manage incoming voicemail messages, making their Skype usage more ubiquitous.

I’m still on Vonage, but I am getting more and more tempted to switch to SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail.

Open Source Music

Via this post by Joi Ito, I found this article by Philip Torrone at Make:

MacMinute has a story about Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails making the band's new single, "The Hand That Feeds" available to download for Mac users with GarageBand to mix and mash up (an actual multi-track audio session). "For quite some time I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks -- to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there," Reznor says. Here's a screenshot of it on my Mac (View image) and here's where to get it (70MB file). Here are a couple of the first remixes!

Pretty cool!

Firefox updates to 1.0.3

Click the little red arrow in the upper right of your browser (you are using Firefox, aren’t you?) or go to the Firefox download page to update.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Vail resorts passes pre-sale

Just got an e-mail from Vail Associates about next year’s passes.  Visit this site for more information.  If you buy now or put money down now, they are offering some incentives.  Also, if you have a teen, they added a 3 mountain pass (unlimited, unrestricted at Keystone, A-Basin, and Breckenridge plus 10 days of restricted skiing at Vail and Beaver Creek) for teens at a price point of $199.  Best deal is still to get a group of friends and buy the $309 Buddy Pass for the 3 mountains vs. the $349 for a single pass.  With single day prices running around $80, this pass pays for itself in about 5 days of skiing. 


If for some reason you are still in need of a Gmail account, I’ve get 50 more invites — just drop me an e-mail and I’ll set you up.

Virtual Bartender II

Adrants is reporting that has launched Virtual Bartender II, featuring 2 bartenders that will respond to almost any of your commands.

Have fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sony supports MP3 on it's new flash players and then makes ir hard to use

From this post on Slashdot:

. . . these new "MP3 players" can finally play MP3 natively, not just Sony's proprietary ATRAC format. But wait -- you cannot just put your MP3s onto the device, you have to run them through Sony's obfuscation software first. The obfuscated files, when installed properly on the device, can be played. But you can't just move them around, share them with your friends, whatever. Well, of course the obfuscation scheme has already been broken by a brave hacker.

Sound like they might as well just have required you to convert everything to ATRAC; it’s going to be hard to beat Apple if you don’t make your product easy to use.


Chill wine fast and re-fizz champagne

One of those useful-to-know tips for entertaining comes from this post on Lifehacker and describes how to quickly chill a bottle of wine:

 "Put the bottle in a bucket with ice, water and a large handful of salt. The salt reduces the freezing point of water and will allow it to become superchilled, which will in turn chill the bottle of wine in six minutes flat."

You will find that this process works well for anything that comes in a glass bottle (i.e., beer) and even for aluminum cans.

Another tip that’s sort of related to this — if you have a flat bottle of champagne, just throw in a lemon peel to reactivate the fizz.

Centennial airport upgrade

According to this post on Luxist, a new company is going to open what’s called a Xjet facility at Centennial airport in Colorado.  The post describes the Xjet facility as:

The Xjet club will be like a yacht club for the jet set.  The 16,000-square-foot clubhouse will include massage rooms, showers and a five-star restaurant.  The club will offer travel planning as well as jet maintenance and backup crews.  The company is aimed at plane owners but will also offer flight services.  The club will also have three hangars.

I certainly am not in a position to make use of the facility, but since it’s close to where I work and live, I figured that I would do a quick post about it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I posted about this a while ago, but was reminded about the Tourbillon by this post on Reveries.  Being somewhat of a watch collector myself, I am fascinated by what is considered the ultimate test of a high-end watch manufacturer.  Unfortunately I cannot say that I have a watch with a tourbillon yet in my collection, but I am always on the lookout.

Essentially the tourbillon counters the effects of gravity that may cause problems with the precision of an automatic watch.  If you have never seen a tourbillon (which means “whirlwind”), it is a mesmerizing thing to look at.

Podcast Search Engine

According to this post on Micro Persuasion, TVEyes is debuting a service called Podscope that will allow you to search every word within a podcast.  Assuming that this works as advertised, imagine if you integrated the feature set into a program like X1 and were able to search through personal and business podcasts on your hard drive or home/company network.  Furthermore, if you use a server-based voicemail solution, imagine if you could use something like this to search through every word in your archived voicemails.

The service should be available later this month.

Turn your old laptop into a media player

If you’ve got an old laptop sitting around, you can fairly easily turn it into a barebones media player with this detailed instructional post on Engadget.  Please note that I said “media player,” not personal video recorder.

Essentially the process involves installing a freeware program called GeeXboX on your machine.  You will want a machine that has some sort of non-PC video out, and the article points out that if you are lacking the appropriate hardware, you can purchase a mini itx box for around $200 that has all the hardware you need in an extremely small form factor.

Pretty cool for not too much dough.

Do you want new music as a ring tone?

Cingular Wireless is betting that you do.  According to this post on Engadget, Cingular has made deals with some bands to release singles as ringtones before the singles themselves are released to the general public.  Notably, Cingular has made a deal with ColdPlay to release their new single “Speed of Sound” as a ringtone 6 days before it is released to the general public at a cost of $2.49.  Personally, I would advocate paying $0.99 for the single on iTunes, chopping a 30 second bit of the song, and uploading it to your phone, but you can do what you want.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and what kind of revenue Cingular and the artists make from this venture.

Monday, April 11, 2005


From this post by Seth Godin:

Figure what the always is. Then do something else.

Toothpaste always comes in a squeezable tube.
Business travelers always use a travel agent.
Politicians always have their staff screen their calls.

Figure out what the always is, then do exactly the opposite. Do the never.

Lots of great examples of this kin\d of thinking in the book Why Not?.

Take my post from earlier today about all the television channels providing the exhaustive list of closed schools — do the never, list only the schools that are open, and differentiate yourself from every news station.

What’s your always?  What if instead of doing the always, today you did the never?

Another reason to get a Blackberry

Cingular, through this promotion on will actually wind up paying you $0.01 to get a Blackberry 7100g after rebates (originally found via this post on BBHub).  Requires new activation and I’m sure some sort of 1–2 year commitment, but not bad if you are already in the market for a Blackberry.  Note that the 7100g is a quad-band GSM device that allows worldwide voice roaming.


Here’s a cool program that I found via this link on Marcom Blog called BlogMatrix Sparks! 2.0 that integrates podcasting recording, listening, and sharing.  Windows version is available now and they list that the Mac version will be available some time mid-April; if you want to use it on Linux, you’ll have to install Wine, the open-source Windows API for Linux.

DMG for free

Here’s a great little app for OSX that I found via this post on TUAW; as the name of the program, FreeDMG, implies, it helps you create DMG files and costs nothing.

Snow closures

It snowed a lot here in Denver.  On the news, they keep running a list of all the schools that are closed — it seems to go on forever.  Why not just list the schools that are open?  Certainly the list would be shorter, but then I (you) wouldn’t have to watch the channel for 20 minutes to see if the school I am (you are) worried about is closed.  The really funny part is that they list all of the school closures after telling you every 15 minutes that entire school districts are closed (there are just not that many private schools in Colorado).  Best bet is to just look on the internet and save yourself the agony of watching the same news reporters continue to tell you that it’s snowing.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mobilizing my blog

Ran across this site today called WINKsite that will apparently allow me to make a WAP version of my blog.  Anyone else using this successfully with Blogger?

Mobile phone content control

I blogged previously about the problem for the release of the Motorola iTunes phone being the carriers not wanting to give up the over-the-air download revenue stream.  Here’s some more interesting information from this post on TechDirt:

Verizon Wireless' decision to cripple Bluetooth on its phones to stop people from transferring content directly from their phones to PCs (or other phones) and require them to use their cellular connection (which, oh yeah, costs money). Verizon Wireless tries to defend the practice by claiming the entertainment industry made them do it. The quote comes from Jim Straight, vice president for wireless data and Internet services at Verizon Wireless, saying: "When it comes to the cell phone I have to abide by the rules of the content houses."

Did one of the record labels purchase a majority interest in Verizon Wireless?  I don’t really see why Verizon has to abide by content house rules unless the content houses have specifically threatened to cut off providing content if Verizon does not play ball.  As the cellular carrier world continues to shrink, it seems like it will be harder and harder for the content houses to dictate terms to the carriers, although I suppose that if there were 3 carriers and 1 didn’t serve up content, that might be a differentiating factor for consumer to switch to one of the two that did.  Seems a little scary.

As a side note: I’m sure that Verizon had no other motivation for disabling the Bluetooth on their phones . . . yeah, right.

Sharing music is cultural

According to this post on TechDirt:

Wired Magazine is running a piece from a Sonic Youth member talking about the importance of shared mix tapes in his life, and how it's a cultural thing that has nothing to do with "stealing," but it's more about the music and what it means to people. "Once again, we're being told that home taping (in the form of ripping and burning) is killing music. But it's not: It simply exists as a nod to the true love and ego involved in sharing music with friends and lovers. Trying to control music sharing - by shutting down P2P sites or MP3 blogs or BitTorrent or whatever other technology comes along - is like trying to control an affair of the heart. Nothing will stop it.

Can’t un-ring the bell; the question is whether or not there is still time for the MPAA to figure it out — I had to sit through a ridiculous amount of FBI anti-piracy warnings on a DVD I just bought before I could watch it (hint: I don’t think that’s the real answer).

iTunes DRM regulated by Congress?

According to this post on Lockergnome, the US Congress is hearing arguments about DRM interoperability.  From the post:

 Congress is debating whether or not to require that music shops keep their DRM open for interoperability. Apple wasn't present at the hearings, but Napster's CEO was, arguing that the market should make the decision about interoperability. Considering that previous standards (FireWire/USB, Betamax/VHS) have been decided by the market, could it be that Apple isn't big enough to keep the government out of its industry?


CD Extinction

Mark Cuban has a great post about the extinction of audio CDs  From the post:

MP3 players are changing peoples listening habits. We don’t carry folders filled with CDs anymore. We carry our library in our MP3 players. We don’t listen to CDs. We listen to playlists that we adjust all the time. We don’t burn CDs anymore, it’s too time consuming. We copy all our music to our MP3 players so it’s all available at our fingertips.

All of our music in a single device. Available to us wherever we are, for whenever we want it. Music how we want it, when we want it. Easy and breezy. That’s how we want to consume music.

That’s not how we are being sold music.

To buy music these days, I have to make all kinds of choices. If I want to buy downloads from the net, it’s like trying to figure out which mortgage to take out on a house. Now because of the cost, but because of all the rules and regulations. Do I want to limit myself to 5 computers. Do I want to always keep my subscription live. Do I want to store the music in a proprietary format that only a couple devices can use. Those are all tough decisions to make when the only thing I know with certainty is that the device I’m using as an MP3 player today, is NOT going to be the device I’m going to be using 18 months from now. There will be players that have more features, or I will consolidate multiple products into a single device. I may be using my phone, my PSP or PDA or something other device for my music.

Which brings me back to CDs. At least until the music industry goes to DVD Audio or copy protected CDs, I know that with the CD, I have control over my music. I can make my own personal copies (which I realize was illegal to do, until the RIAA lawyer told the Supreme Court last week it was all Ok with the RIAA now). I can put them in apple format for my IPod, Sony format for my new digital walkman or PSP, Microsoft format for my PC, or whatever else comes along.

That’s the only good reason to own a CD.  To deal with the hassles that you know will come from having to deal with all the different formats that MP3 players will support in coming years.

That’s not a good sign for the music business or the current retail CD business.

Specifically Cuban suggests that we should all be able to purchase music with the same lack of restrictions as a CD, but get the music directly onto our players.  Certainly with all the rumors circling about iPods with wireless connections, it seems that the major player in the portable music industry might be moving in this direction.  Furthermore, with Starbucks transitioning many of the stores to music environments, there may be a paradigm shift in what a “music store” actually looks like.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: the biggest differentiating feature of download music stores will become (is) exclusive content.  I would expect to see that a lot of stores, brands, etc. that are sponsoring music tours begin to negotiate for rights to exclusive live tracks so that those tracks are available exclusively from the sponsor.

Some ideas that support the coming shift:

From this post on Reveries Magazine:

Having had a hit with the legendary Ray Charles, Starbucks is about to take things up a notch as the exclusive retailer of a new record by Antigone Rising

My post about the Starbucks pilot music store on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

My post about Starbucks getting into the music store business.

What’s Next for Apple article on Business 2.0 detailing the wireless iPod.

My post on technology dominos.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Tired of lugging your own luggage?

Can it really be called luggage if you don’t, well, lug it?  Anyway, a company called Live Luggage in the UK has created a self-propelled, re-chargeable piece of luggage according to this post on Luxist (think self-propelled lawn mower).  Cost is estimated at about $750 US.

I’d like to see someone supercharge the motor and for people to do races.

Tablet PC Experience Pack

Go and download it if you use a Tablet, but be aware that you will have to go through the genuine Windows certification procedure in order to download (I highly recommend writing down your serial number before you download — I had to keep lifting up my machine, which sort of sucked.  Via this post on Scoble.  I’m using it now and it seems pretty cool; don’t have much use for the crossword puzzle, but some of the other stuff is pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


The service is not endorsed or affiliated in any way with Google, but they offer access to your Gmail account via WAP.  Procedurally, it seems to be very simple: just enter your Gmail login ID and point your WAP browser to  On the site it very clearly says:

We don't use your email id to spam or sell your info to anyone.

I guess if you are a heavy Gmail user, are willing to access your account through someone else’s server, and only have WAP access on your cell phone, this is the way to go.  My suggestion would be to very carefully read their privacy policy and terms of service before you sign up.


According to this post on BBHub, Microsoft is hammering hard at Blackberry with a rumored upgrade in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (rumored to be released in June or July).  The upgrade, code-named Magneto (ah, it’s good to see that the programmers at MS are keeping the X-Men alive through the use of code words), will enable push e-mail to smartphones and pocket PCs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

How to write a business plan

Found this link via this post on Proven Ways to Get New Customers.  Just briefly skimming through the PDF, it seems very well-written and to-the-point, and you certainly cannot beat the price!

Google Maps offers satellite photos

Check it out at Google Maps.  One thing I noticed right away was that the satellite map of a facility I work with is much more up-to-date than the satellite photos I have hanging on my wall — there’s no link on the map page that directs me where to order a huge wall-size blow-up of the address picture.  I happen to know that the images are coming from Google’s acquisition of Keyhole so I know where to go to get the images I want; it’s nice to see that Google’s done the obvious and leveraged their Keyhole data across their new mapping service.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Marketing ROI

Decker Marketing has a great post that includes 10 points on a Marketing ROI Culture:

    1. At most marketing meetings there is a calculator present.

    2. Finance and marketing know each other well enough now to go out to lunch…at least once in a while!

    3. You have (or need) a focused marketing operations analyst (data reporting and analysis)

    4. You have a marketing dashboard reporting daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly marketing results vs. forecast

    5. This dashboard (and source data) is available to anyone, anytime -- and is presented to management at least weekly.

    6. The numbers on this dashboard include P&L-relevant measures (revenue, expense, margin) -- not just clicks, calls, leads, etc.

    7. The marketing department’s shared drive stores many Excel spreadsheets – perhaps more Excel files than Powerpoint presentations or Acrobat pdfs combined!

    8. The executive summary of any marketing presentation is 60% numbers. The remaining is 80% numbers and graphs.

    9. Senior management understands and recalls the actual and forecasted marketing measures (i.e. response rates, conversion, revenue per circ, total marketing revenue, etc.)

    10. You start performance planning and reviews in Microsoft Excel before you use Microsoft Word.

The list above is all great, but here’s my number 1 (number 0, if you wish):

Your marketing manager better use the word “return” in conversation; especially in conversations regarding marketing spending.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Blogjet bad move

I went to download the new version of Blogjet today.  I found out there was a new version by going to the Help menu and selecting "Check for New Version," which prompted a dialog box telling me that I was using an old version, there was a new version available, and asking if I wanted to download the new version.  I clicked "Yes" to upgrade and got some sort of error with Firefox, so I went direct to the Blogjet site and clicked the "Download" link.  In the download section of the site it says this:

If you want to receive instructions on how to setup BlogJet and a few feature highlights, please, type your name and e-mail address in the form above. Your privacy is very important to us, so we won't give away your address. If you do not want us to e-mail you, just leave the fields blank.

Having already registered the older version and being in a position where I just wanted to upgrade, I left the fields blank.  To my surprise, when I clicked to download, I was redirected here to the "Awake Autoresponder" that said:


Awake Autoresponder

ERROR: Invalid Email/Name.

Awake Autoresponder by Daniel Berg, 06-21-2004
© Copyright 2003, 2004. All rights reserved. DANIBERG
Now a little pissed off at the system, I entered a fake name of "Nowhere" and an e-mail of "," which finally let me download the current software.
Bad user experience, especially for software the has an attached registration fee, and doubly especially because I've paid that fee.

Bloglines supports package tracking

  1. Log into your Bloglines account
  2. Click "Add" from the right pane
  3. Click "Package Tracking" in the left pane
  4. Enter your tracking number from FedEx, UPS, or USPS

You can now subscribe to tracking your package just as you would subscribe to any other fee -- pretty cool.

Product development tips

From James Dyson (by way of this post by Josh Kaufman):

Anyone developing new products and new technology needs one characteristic above all else: hope. This comes down to a few elements:
  1. Having high expectations that you will succeed - despite any setbacks or frustrations.
  2. Having the sense to break down an imposing task into smaller, manageable ones.
  3. Believing that you are able to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Be dogged and determined.
  4. Don't be afraid to be different.

- James Dyson

Gmail is upping the storage

. . . from 1GB to 2GB in response to Yahoo announcing 1GB of free storage with its mail service.  This could go on forever and Google will probably continue to be able to up the ante.  My guess is that no one will really be able to challenge GMail until they offer something as disruptive in scale as GMail when it launched.  Is that 100GB?  Is it a terabyte of storage?

Need a ride?

Google Ride Finder is a great example of consumer-focused location-based services, using GPS vehicle tracking and Google Maps to show you exactly where a participating company's cabs are.  It's not available for every city and there are not a ton of cab companies that are participating (yet), but it's pretty damn cool.

The reason there's a delay with the iPod phone

From this post on Church of the Customer (originally from this article on Business 2.0):

Called super-distribution, the technology lets users download digital content to their cell phones and forward it to friends. Have a hip-hop MP3 you like? Send it to your pals, who get to hear it once for free. For a few bucks, they can keep it and share it again. Fans become evangelists, and labels get another bite at the $30 billion digital-music pie. "A friend's recommendation far outweighs an ad," says EMI senior VP Ted Cohen.

It's simply a bottom-line thing for the carriers, but it wouldn't surprise me if that just forced Apple to create an iTunes application for Windows Mobile, Palm, and Symbian operating systems, the systems found in the current stock of smartphones (most of which offer some sort of expandable memory slot).

Mirra now available at Best Buy

Used to be that you could only buy the Mirra Personal Server from Mirra and some other specialty computer hardware stores, but now, according to this post by Om Malik, they are now available from Best Buy at more aggressive pricing. 

iPod camera connector reviewed

This post on Engadget links through to this review of the iPod Camera Connector on iPodLounge; highlights from the review:

  • The iPod Camera Connector is not supported for use with older iPods. Only the iPod photo is supported, despite earlier hopes that older generation iPods might be able to use the connector.
  • External media readers will be supported for use with the device. In addition to being able to hook up directly to your camera via USB, you can also hook in any supported media reader and suck down photos from card-based media.
  • The USB port on the connector is a low power port, and can’t be used to charge other iPods.
  • Interestingly: “While an iPod photo with an attached iPod Camera Connector may recognize another iPod if you connect it, transferring photos from one iPod to another is not supported.”

The last bullet is the most intriguing because if someone were able to figure out how to transfer photos via the camera connector from iPod to iPod, then really people should also be able to transfer any data from iPod to iPod via the camera connector, which is much better than this solution.