Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Virtual News Readers for the Virtual World

This is a pretty neat use of Virtual Avatars to present news reports that are automatically combined using images and blogs from all over the world. It's a unique experiment by a couple of Computer Science graduate students at the Northwestern University’s Intelligent Information Laboratory (InfoLab).
News at Seven is an automatic system that crafts daily news shows. It finds the news you are interested in; edits it; finds relevant images, videos, and external opinions; and then presents it all using a virtual news team working in a virtual studio. News at Seven is a uniquely compelling experience that can present traditional news--augmented with supplemental images, videos, and opinions from the blogosphere—all without human intervention.
News at Seven

Clever mobile enhancements on the rise

The founders of Zink Imaging LLC believe they have two great ideas in one absolute show-stopper. They've created a portable device that makes it ultra-convenient to print photos from digital cameras and phones. And they designed it to use no ink.

That's not to say 'hardly any ink,' mind you, but zero ink — shorten that and you get 'Zink.' Instead, the device uses heat to activate minuscule dye crystals embedded in the photo paper.

Not bad for a device roughly the size of an iPod. No wonder founder and CEO Wendy Caswell proclaims that Zink 'delivers a magical user experience.'
Clever mobile enhancements on the rise - Yahoo! News

Monday, January 29, 2007

Want to learn the truth about your business? Hire a blogger.

For BzzAgent, 2006 was shaping up to be an exciting year. The Boston-based word-of-mouth marketing agency had just landed $13.8 million in venture funding and a brand-new board of directors, and it was planning on nearly doubling its staff from 47 to 80. Making room for all those new hires meant moving into new, larger headquarters. Facing this barrage of change, many companies would lie low and wait for the dust to clear. BzzAgent chose a different path. Call it courageous corporate transparency or a temporary lack of judgment, but for president and founder Dave Balter, it seemed the perfect time to start a blog.

And not just any blog. Rather than post himself or ask staffers to contribute, Balter decided to hire an outsider--someone who would function pretty much as an embedded reporter. For 90 days, the blogger would come to the office, attend meetings, interview employees, even go out for after-work drinks with them, and share his thoughts on the company's transformation. The project's name: 90 Days of BzzAgent. (Click the link below to read more.)
The Outsider

Painless Podcasting: How You Can Do It

Source: PC Magazine

A podcast is an audio file (typically MP3) served from a Web site and combined with an RSS feed that lets subscribers automatically download new content directly to their PCs or mobile devices. Podcasts are an invaluable way to share your expertise and promote your business. Don't be afraid of podcasts; this stuff isn't very complicated as long as you stay organized... If you're just getting started, though, you can always podcast yourself. Here's how:
  1. Plan the format. Most podcasts are structured like radio shows, with hosts interviewing guests or speaking about topics of interest. You can interview clients about how great your products/services are, increasing customer loyalty and driving new sales. Asking someone to be a guest on your podcast can open doors, creating a relationship that you can later make the most of for sales purposes. You can use your podcast to establish your reputation as an expert within your field, perhaps by ­recording how-to segments.

  2. Record your podcast. You can use a portable voice recorder (digital, if possible, so you can simply copy the audio file to your computer), hire a service that records phone interviews, make a VoIP call from your computer and record it, or simply ­attach a microphone to your PC and record.

  3. Edit your podcast. You may want to cut out parts of an interview or add some music. Audacity is an excellent freeware audio recorder and editor...

  4. Host your podcast. The next step is to ­upload your podcast to a server. If you have enough space on your current Web host, simple create a new directory and store your podcasts there. Or you can use a service such as Podblaze or HipCast to store it. Either way, you'll simply link to the audio file from your blog or Web site.

  5. Serve the RSS feed. Your feed is a file that's updated every time you add a podcast. Subscribers to your feed can then automatically download your new content. Podcasts require an RSS feed formatted in a certain way. You can use FeedBurner... to serve an enhanced feed, or FeedForAll for a simple feed.

  6. Promote your podcast. No one will ever find your podcast if you don't promote it, not just on your own site but also on the major podcast directories and search engines, such as iTunes. [Click for instructions on how to submit your podcasts to iTunes (techspecs), Yahoo! Podcasts, and Podcast Alley.]
PC Magazine: Painless Podcasting (ARTICLE DATE: 01.10.07)

Goodbye User Manuals, Hello Screencasts: The End of the Traditional User Guide?

... this is a growing phenomenon, and an excellent one too. It has long been a problem with software that it takes time and effort to get to know an application properly. With large professional Applications you are often willing to put in the time and effort to learn it regardless, but when trying out shareware or smaller pieces of software, I find that if an Application doesn’t grab my attention quickly I will often abandon it for something that does. I know this sounds like laziness, but sometimes you are just too busy to invest the time. By using simple quicktime videos, a developer can give a much better overview to an application and allow the potential user to get into the software much quicker. More than that though, it is a great boon for end users to quickly see what a software product can do and immerse themselves in the features without having to go through pages of documentation first. I hope more software developers realize this in the future and we start to see the traditional user manual replaced with a more media rich and easier to follow alternative.
Goodbye User Manuals, Hello Screencasts: The End of the Traditional User Guide? at thomas

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The 20 Most Popular Websites

  • - 11.9%
  • - 8.5%
  • - 3.7%
  • - 3.7%
  • - 2.1%
  • - 1.7%
  • - 1.6%
  • - 1.0%
  • - 0.7%
  • - 0.6%
  • - 0.6%
  • - 0.6%
  • - 0.5%
  • - 0.4%
  • - 0.4%
  • - 0.3%
  • - 0.3%
  • - 0.3%
  • - 0.2%
  • - 0.2%
Read on for more info and charts, and graphs.
The 20 Most Popular Websites: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Popularity of Web brands signals power shift

A consumer poll on Friday exposed the worst kept secret in the business world: Internet companies are becoming more important to people than firms that operate in the real world.

Google retained its title as the world's most influential brand, and video-sharing site YouTube and online encyclopedia
Wikipedia were catapulted into the top five at the No. 3 and 4 spots, according to the annual survey by online branding magazine
Popularity of Web brands signals power shift - Yahoo! News

Internet to revolutionize TV in 5 years: Gates

"The rise of high-speed Internet and the popularity of video sites like Google Inc.'s YouTube has already led to a worldwide decline in the number hours spent by young people in front of a TV set.

In the years ahead, more and more viewers will hanker after the flexibility offered by online video and abandon conventional broadcast television, with its fixed program slots and advertisements that interrupt shows, Gates said."
Internet to revolutionize TV in 5 years: Gates - Yahoo! News

YouTube to share revenue with users

Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube, said Saturday that the wildly successful site will start sharing revenue with its millions of users...

"We are getting an audience large enough where we have an opportunity to support creativity, to foster creativity through sharing revenue with our users," Hurley said at the World Economic Forum. "So in the coming months, we are going to be opening that up."
YouTube to share revenue with users - Yahoo! News

Friday, January 26, 2007

Corporate Blogging Pays for GM

General Motors' auto business hasn't been great of late, but its blogging strategy is paying off handsomely.

In 2006, the company's FastLane blog delivered an estimated $410,470 worth of customer insight and marketing at an approximate cost of $255,675 -- a return of investment of 67% -- according to a newly released report from Forrester Research.
Read on for more.
Corporate Blogging Pays for GM - News by InformationWeek

Video Blogs in the 2008 Presidential Campaign

For any modern politician, video blogging has to be part of a comprehensive Internet campaign strategy, along with podcasting and text blogging. But video blogging has advantages over text, says Robert Scoble, VP of media development for, an audio and video podcast network. Scoble is the author of the popular Scobleizer blog and says video and audio are more authentic than text. "In text blogs, I don't know who's writing. It could be the campaign staff," he says. "But when I see someone talking into a video camera, or hear their voice on a podcast, I'm pretty sure I'm getting them."

InformationWeek: 'Macaca' Moments May Define 2008 Presidential Campaign

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


And now for something pretty unique, yet inevitable considering the direction the web is going in, connecting people and offering everyone a chance to voice their opinions and air their grievances. Wikileaks is offering an open forum for leakers to leak sensitive information and for the entire world to analyze and comment on it.
"Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources."

Clinton campaign shows Web power in White House race

The following article illustrates the growing power of the web in every aspect of our lives including Politics. It just goes to show how important "net presence" has become in order to establish oneself as a key player in whatever field we are in.
[Sen. Clinton is] banking that in an era of the popular video-viewing YouTube and the networking, the Internet will be an influential and critical component of the modern race, experts say.

"These campaigns are not going to be about who has the best television commercials or who has the greatest direct mail or who can make the most phone calls," said political strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

"You're going to see greater use of the Net than ever before," he said. "You get your news out when you want to."
Clinton campaign shows Web power in White House race - Yahoo! News

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Startup hopes 'Tubes' metaphor has legs

A powerful U.S. senator endured ridicule last year for his assertion that the Internet is 'a series of tubes.' But one Web startup hopes to bring that metaphor to life with a new service that makes it easy for people to share videos, songs, pictures and other big files.

After downloading the Tubes application from Adesso Systems Inc., Windows computer users can create dozens of such tubes and fill each one with up to 2 gigabytes of content — room for about a few hundred songs, for example.

Tube creators then invite others to join a Tube (the recipients must also download Adesso's application to their PCs) and can grant those partners varying privilege levels. Those include locking them into a read-only mode or letting them add or remove files of their own.

An e-mail, a Web link, a presentation, a video or any other file can be put into a Tube simply by dragging it from the desktop and dropping it into the Tubes application on the side of the screen. Once in a Tube, files automatically get placed on recipients' PC hard drives.

Adesso executives believe the system is far less cumbersome than sending e-mail attachments around, which should appeal to far-flung groups of friends and relatives, not to mention individuals who use multiple computers and want to have the same files on all of them. It also could aid co-workers who need an easy way to synchronize collaborative projects.

"It's like instant-messaging for your stuff," said Adesso's director of marketing, Steve Chazin.
Startup hopes 'Tubes' metaphor has legs - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Skype founders unveil TV service details

The co-founders of the Internet telephone service Skype unveiled the brand name and details of their latest project Tuesday: a new Internet-based television service called Joost.

Entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who sold Skype for $2.6 billion to eBay Inc. in 2005, said the new project combines aspects of file-sharing software and regular broadcast television.

Joost — pronounced 'juiced' — may eventually try to move onto television sets, but it will initially focus on making it easier and more fun to watch TV on a computer.

Joost, like Skype, requires users to download free software. In this case, the program will help them browse the Internet for channels and clips they're interested in, rather than make phone calls.
Skype founders unveil TV service details - Yahoo! News

Netflix to be delivered on the Internet

Netflix Inc. will start showing movies and TV episodes over the Internet this week, providing its subscribers with more instant gratification as the DVD-by-mail service prepares for a looming technology shift threatening its survival.

The Los Gatos-based company plans to unveil the new 'Watch Now' feature Tuesday, but only a small number of its more than 6 million subscribers will get immediate access to the service, which is being offered at no additional charge.
Netflix to be delivered on the Internet - Yahoo! News

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wild African lions kill buffalo live on Internet

Nature lovers worried growing hordes of tourists might spoil a safari to Africa can now watch the continent's wildlife live and in the raw on the Internet...

"The majestic beauty of these animals is rarely seen by the general public. Now we're able to share it with everyone, without harming these animals," said Infotec BSI Chief Executive Arthur Griffiths in a statement.

The Nkorho stream, shown at and, films a watering hole in the upscale Sabi Sands reserve on the edge of Kruger Park -- one of the world's top game reserves -- 24 hours a day.
Wild African lions kill buffalo live on Internet - Yahoo! News

TV 'time-shifting' goes international with Sky

Sky said an analysis of audience habits showed that just 12.2 percent of viewing in Sky Plus homes was 'time-shifted.' But channels that show movies or entertainment, rather than news or sports, are more heavily affected. Between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., when British broadcasters generally schedule their most popular dramas, 22 percent of shows were time-shifted, as viewers watched them later or recorded a second program as they watched their first choice 'live.
TV 'time-shifting' goes international with Sky - International Herald Tribune

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Avatar" to feature virtual characters

James Cameron is set to direct 'Avatar,' his first dramatic feature since the Oscar-winning blockbuster 'Titanic' in 1997...

Partly through its work on six documentary features including "Ghosts of the Abyss," Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment team has researched a potentially groundbreaking mix of live-action cinematography and virtual photorealistic production techniques for "Avatar," which will feature virtual characters.
"Titanic" director sets sci-fi epic for '09 - Yahoo! News