Thursday, December 20, 2007

Paul Potts at the Royal Variety Concert, happy beginning to a great story of 2007

The first time I saw the Paul Potts video on Youtube, my jaw dropped. Here was this ordinary guy who can sing like Pavarotti. The world fell in love with him over the internet and he went on to win the Britain's Got Talent competition.

Since his 'outing' on Youtube, Paul's first album has gone onto sell 2 Million copies and is number 1 in 15 countries.

This is my favourite story of 2007 - Congrats Paul, it is great to know there are people like you out there. When are you coming to Canada to perform?

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Blogosphere loses a bit of its voice

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Marc Orchant - but I have certainly read and enjoyed his writing over the years. Marc was a pioneer and leader in the world of social communications, and this is clearly represented by the 1000's of tribute posts that have been written across the world by his friends, family and people like me whom just respected his work.

My sympathies and thoughts are with his friends and family.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The biggest reason I love my Blackberry Pearl

The Pearl is a fantastic PDA - but the reason I simply won't switch to another platform anytime soon is this:

I am leaving for a 3 day business trip and - I am NOT taking my charger.

End of Discussion - call me when another smart phone can do that.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Live Documents - without the Microsoft Price Tag!

A gentlemen by the name of Sabeer Bhatia (would love to meet this guy sometime), has fired a shot across the bow of Microsoft's stranglehold on the Office workspace. If the name rings a bell, you would be correct in remembering Mr. Bhatia as the creator behind Hotmail, Microsofts free email service. Live Documents is another of Mr. Bhatia's creations and from the outside (I haven't got my beta invitation yet.. grr. apparently they were swamped with applications yesterday) looks unbelievalby cool. It essentially provides shared desktop/web document collaboration (think Google Doc's but actually usable for business) updating and a web based version of Office 2007. This is a big deal, smaller teams will snatch this service up in a heartbeat - and if it is scalable and secure larger companies will follow suit. If you only have to install a toolbar in Office and suddenly can create/share and collaborate on documents for free! it is a no brainer.

The Live Documents team is based out of the IT wonderland of India - looking at the About Us section on the website you can find this little gem..

Statutory Disclaimer: While our products are built primarily around the Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft Corporation was not involved in any way in the development of these solutions and does not endorse them in any formal way. Please see our IP Disclaimer for more information.
(Note: That said, since Sabeer Bhatia is a co-founder, a very small part of the millions that he received from Microsoft for funded our development efforts - so thank you Microsoft!).

Note to the Live Documents team.. get me in the beta :) hurry...

Thursday, November 22, 2007 - the Canadian Woot! Opens tomorrow - a Canadian version of opens tomorrow. For those unfamiliar with Woot - it is a 'one day, one deal' site and immensely popular in the US. All products are deeply discounted and only 5$ shipping and handling, whether is is a 50' plasma TV or a 'bag o' crap' which is their version of a mystery gift.

Building a community and interacting with it is smart marketing. Hopefully Razzle lives up to its US counterpart, it is off to a good start as they will be holding some form of lottery where you can win an item just for being part of the community which is quite innovative - I can see being their #1 customer in short order.

Razzle is based out of Montreal - which seems to be growing quickly as a hotbed of Canadian technology and innovation startups.

Good Luck to the Razzle team!

Press Release

For immediate release

Montreal, Oct. 23rd 2007

Groupe Yoda Inc, based in Montreal (Qc), is about to launch the first 100% Canadian deal-of-the-day website, named is an internet-based store that only sells one discounted product, each day, in large quantities.
Each daily product is available until either it sells out, or the 24 hours ends (at midnight Central time).

Founder of Group Yoda Inc, Ryan Closs, 26, says, 'as the early pioneer of the "One Day, One Online Deal" business model in Canada, had to distinguish itself from classical online stores, such as Woot (US) or iBood (Europe). That's why also offers a free-lottery for customers who can't afford buying the daily product. The name of the winner is displayed on the website the following day'. is also a web 2.0 community of people who love electronic gadgets and computer components. Members of the community share their opinions and humorous comments on the site's forums.

Director of purchasing, Jean Ellezam says, 'As each deal has a limited turnaround time on, our daily visitors are into an impulse-buying process when they discover our daily product. It is important to help them doing their shopping around very quickly, and evaluate the real quality of the deal. That's why the website also offers direct links to the main price comparisons available in Canada and elsewhere'.

The website's marketing style is irreverent. Product descriptions often mock the brand of the product, the customers, or Razzle itself. Community users are also invited to do their own research and post their opinions — positive, or negative — on the product's blog.
Creator of the service, Ryan Closs, 26, declared in a past interview, 'our tiny profits should allow us to reach profitability a couple of months before we retire, around 2045'

The website will be launched November the 23rd. Free sign-up is available now at

English Contact:
Ryan Closs

Monday, November 12, 2007

To Steve Jobs - Please give me an Ultraportable MacBook

I have finally made the decision to convert to Mac (yay me) - I am 100% confident that with the addition of the new Mac Office suite, all my needs will be met and I can retire my battle hardened Acer Aspire and never be forced to reformat it again.

Looking at what Apple has available today for laptops and with the rumours of an optical driveless ultra portable Mac, I have decided that this is the perfect machine for me. It would be nice if it came with 2G of RAM, an LED back lit display and a solid state (although not a showstopper if it didnt') drive. With the Santa Rosa Chipset this thing should really fly and be an ideal road/carry anywhere machine.

I think I am in the same boat as a lot of road warriors, I want something that is small enough to pull out on a plane (in economy) has great battery life but versatile enough to accomplish all my business related tasks and still do some multimedia. I want the ability to easily work on a desktop in the home office, and have my files synced to provide a seamless computing experience. I don't mind buying two machines, and the concept of an UP Mac might open the door to multiple purchases of other Apple products for a lot of users.

So I will watch anxiously for the new Mac in January and hope that it is the one I have been waiting for.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Skype Earnout negotiated at 1/3 of the total

Janus Fris via his blog - is reporting that the eBay/Skype earn out has been negotiated early. According to Janus, Niklas and himself are approximately 1/2 way through the earn out period and they have agreed to a settlement totaling 1/3 of the maximum.

I am not an expert in earn out clauses, but there seems to be a sense of urgency to get this one off the books. Also the fact that only 1/3 of the total amount payable suggests that Skype is not performing even close to what eBay had originally expected. The revolving management door that has been Skype since the acquisition opens up some interesting discussion points.

  • Did they realize what they were buying once they decided to take over?
  • Is eBay going to dump Skype? and was the earn out holding up a pending sale?
The lack of integration between Paypal, Skype and eBay has been pretty apparent. It took nearly two years to just integrate Skype as an IM notification option in eBay options (and it still doesn't work very well). The power of '3' as was discussed at the Skype developer conference 2 years ago, certainly hasn't materialized in any way.

Skype in and of itself is amazing, but its power lies in its disruptive entrepreneurial founders and not the corporate dot the i's culture it currently runs as. I am not sure the same 'startup' passion is still there, not with its partners, developers or employees.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yahoo Buys Zimbra - will they kill the Skype integration piece?

Om Malik, is reporting that Yahoo has just purchased Zimbra for 350M$ (which I think is a steal). For those that don't know Zimbra is an opensource Ajax based webmail solution that competes with the likes of Microsoft Exchange. It has robust mobile capabilities and the UI is just spectacular; it also offers great Skype integration (will be interesting to see if Yahoo kills that little piece in favour of YIM).

This is a brilliant acquisition for Yahoo. Oddly they just completely revamped their web based UI with a new Ajaxy UI (which sucks, sorry guys but it does) - and hopefully will do it again and add full Zimbra functionality.

I will say it publicly right here. If Yahoo gives me Zimbra for free, I will switch to Yahoo mail and kiss Gmail goodbye instantly, Zimbra is that good, I would gladly pay for extra storage and a personal domain as well.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Visual Voicemail won't work on an Unlocked iPhone

I just caught a note on Techmeme (which should probably be called Applememe from here on, as 5 of the stories today are Apple related) that Apple has shipped 1 Million iPhones, 1 month ahead of schedule. Aside from the truly remarkable growth, the cottage industry that is springing up around unlocking the iPhone is quite astounding - but I have been asking myself if it actually makes any sense.

One of the iPhone's more compelling features is the Visual Voicemail application (I am sure more will follow). How exactly Apple does this is a bit of a mystery. I am not referring to the technology itself, that is old hat - rather the integration between the iPhone and AT&T's Voicemail infrastructure. The backend proxy that AT&T would have had to create to deliver VM to the iPhone would be quite complicated and as proprietary as the systems it was integrating with. Does Apple run this middleware/server farm? I highly doubt it, but if they had the foresight to actually keep this under their control it will make integrating to other carrier networks a hell of a lot easier ie. just publish and API and let carriers do there own integration/development. Most likely AT&T owns this piece as they probably recognized this was an ace up its sleeve - tying Apple unwittingly to it for the long long haul. (possibly explaining the meme the Jobs is sick of the Telco's already)

So herein lies the problem with buying an unlocked iPhone. Why bother if the features aren't going to work? Apple has a unique relationship to its hardware/telco's in this case, in order to provide the user experience they were after, they had to build a lot of non-standard infrastructure; and this means the iPhone's cooler features just won't work unless you are on a pre-approved Apple carrier.

Shipping an iPhone to a new country is more than just sending Fedex with a parcel.. It requires a carrier willing to integrate to iPhone's unique feature set, and if Apple made a mistake by allowing AT&T to run the middleware portion of the iPhone's UI they are probably not going to make the same mistake twice.

Unlocking an iPhone probably doesn't make a lot of sense in the long run, as you will unlikely have more than 1 carrier per country to use it on anyway.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Apple releases iPod Touch w. Wifi

From the Gizmodo Live Blog - Apple has followed up its design work with the iPhone and brought it to a standalone multimedia player form factor in the iPod touch. The Touch is also wifi enabled, taking a page from the Zune - watch for social features on the Touch soon. Full Safari support, Google and Yahoo search, Contacts, Calculator, YouTube etc.

Also updated is the iPod nano - "with a little video for everyone' It looks very slick and will sell out this Xmas for sure.

PC World Live Chat - Apple Press Event

PC World, has a live chat powered by Meebo - directly from the Apple media event this afternoon. This is a first - and quite cool.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Samsung releases an Embedded Skype enabled Monitor

via Engadget - Samsung has released the 220TN LCD monitor with Skype capability. The monitor comes network enabled and has a 500MHz Geode LX800 processor running WinXP embedded inside the LCD housing.

Using interactive buttons on the LCD you can literally hang this monitor (comes equipped with a webcam, speakers and microphone) on the wall anywhere you have a spare Ethernet port and make Skype calls in full video.

Is the era of the video phone finally here? This is so Logan's Run'ish I am tingling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Coming Leopard Letdown? Hardly.

Hadley Stern over at Apple Matters (good blog, but come on guys full feed please) has an interesting post today entitled "The Coming Leopard Letdown" which boiled down is a bitter Apple Fanboy's diatribe on how he would fix the upcoming Leopard OS by focusing more on innovations rather than refinements. He goes on to critique John Gruber's post that the iPhone is the next generation for Apple, and OSX is so good it simply doesn't need any wondrous UI re-invent. Naturally Apple Matters (whom recently lost media invite status with Apple, gee I wonder why?) says this just ain't so - and Apple needs to champion new innovations daily or; and I quote

All I know is that if all we can expect from Apple right now is John’s visions of refinements for OS X the company, in the long-term, will be in trouble.

I found this rather ironic, as today two of the top stories on Techmeme are about Apple. The first is how 1 in 6 computers shipping in North America are Apple, and the other on how the stock gained about 4.00$ on above average growth. Another post that really grabbed my attention was from Microsoft uber Fanboy Alec Saunders, whom is so frustrated with his Vista experience (I share your pain Alec) - actually wrote to Microsoft senior management expressing basically a WTF guys? letter. To which they promptly responded - 'yeah we know, sorry - we are working on it'.

So to the good folk at Apple Matters, whom think a dark cloud is descending over Cupertino - I offer the following reality. Apple has an OS in Tiger that is already light years ahead of its closest competition in Vista. They are shipping 1 in 6 computers in North America, and M$'s biggest proponents are jumping ship, cause' they are sick of the hellish experience they are having with Vista. Apple has NO where to go but up, as they are not going to lose a single user to Vista - so if I were them I would leave well enough alone and concentrate on getting to 2 in 6 computers sold. Their continued growth is in converting PC users, not keeping their existing customers and they know this too well.

The experience you get when you first use a Mac is much like the feeling you get the first time you make an overseas calls on Skype. You are just blown away - it is so good. Leopard won't be a letdown in any way shape or form, the purists will love it, the newbies will drool - one thing is for certain however; it will get guys like me and Alec to make the jump. Oh yeah, btw - I don't even own a Mac yet.

How do you like d'em Apples.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Julian Cain's explanation on the Skype Outage (from GigaOm)

This is a great explanation of the Skype Out(age) by someone named Julian Cain (no idea who he is, but obviously has experience with Distributed Hash Tables (DHT) and p2p programming) - he posted this explanation in the comments in this thread @ GigaOm.

Number of Skype Authentication servers:

Count == 50; // Clustered

Number of potential Skype clients:

Count = 220,000,000 // Mostly decentralized

Number of SuperNode clients to maintain network connectivity:

Count = N / 300 at any one time.

•   If there are 3.0 million users online then the ratio is
3,000,000 / 300 = 10,000 == Supernodes available
• Supernodes are bootstraps into the network for normal first run clients
("and handle routing of children calls").
• Supernodes maintain the network overlay via a DHT("Distributed Has Table")
"type" method. // This is normally very slow and done over UDP
• If a client cannot find a Supernode, regardless of authentication
via central server then is NOT allowed on the Skype network.

Lack of Supernodes mean lack of network connectivity regardless of successful login via “central server”.

You CAN be a Supernode but not have full network connectivity because you have only a portion of the “Distributed Index Data aka DHT”.

MOST people that become Supernodes will bail out if they cannot keep a clear route (”aka calls bail out, client restarts and aborts Supernode status, thus booting it’s 300 - 500 Children and putting them into a “Connecting mode”.

Children that are trying to “Connect” are unable to do anything unless they have a “Supernode” as a parent. // No calls, No IM….

The overview of this is as follows:

Skype introduced a flaw into the network that dealt with “routing” and “fucked” the “decentralized data store aka DHT” this in turn ran clients on a RANDOM search of Supernodes which at this point were well booted off of the network.

In the End:
It is a huge cycle, no matter how many bugs they “fix” in the “central servers” it will take many days for N nodes to become Supernodes so they can route X data from peer A to peer B. This is NOT minor, a fix to the centralized server code base to relay data to N Supernodes there is lack there of, resulting of a very segregate network. Right now there are approximatly 10,000 sub Skype networks instead of 1 Single “in sync” network. When this “data store(see DHT) is in sync globally then the Skype network will be again STABLE.

I know this is very broad but, unless magically all of said nodes can recreate the “single overlay (DHT)” then nothing will be in sync. You will see delayed messaged, delayed or incorrect profiles and presence.

My take, in the end is give it 48 more hours and it may be semi-stable, but hey this is what you get with using end users as your own redundancy…


Updated** - had a quick chat with Julian Cain, he was a core programmer at Kazaa - and knows his stuff. He is working on some very interesting stuff, which I will post about at a later date.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Skype suffers Worldwide outage - the silence is deafening.

Things are a bit quiet in the office this AM, as no one can log into Skype - According to the official Skype Blog:

Some of you may be having problems logging in to Skype. Our engineering team has determined that it’s a software issue. We expect this to be resolved within 12 to 24 hours. Meanwhile, you can simply leave your Skype client running and as soon as the issue is resolved, you will be logged in. We apologise for the inconvenience.

12-24 Hours?? Wow, this is a major gaffe/bug/DDOS attack?, in a supposedly non-server reliant p2p network. Of course speculation will be rampant as to the cause of the outage - due to the ridiculous explanation by Skype. This is a PR nightmare for eBay, and the silence is deafening.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Facebook Effect - bigger than getting Digg'd

If you design the right application Facebook is a tremendous opportunity. Scrabulous (by far my fav. application thus far) is down right now for upgrading, apparently their servers are just getting hammered. This is great news as it has been very slow the last few days. The site got a huge shot in the arm after a posting on the corporate FB blog about how it has taken over the office.

I btw, am undefeated thus far - my first match was a rout, so if you think you have the verbage challenge me from my profile on FB.

The official FB app. page is here.

Buy an iPhone, kill a forest

Justine buys and iPhone, and is singlehandedly responsible for Global Warming - AT&T, what are you thinking??

Cruchgear turns 1 - and gives me a present.

First off, congrats to the Crunchgear Staff on turing 1 yrs. old. It is the best gadget blog on the net, and a daily read for myself.

You can join the Facebook Group here.

To celebrate their 1st Bday, they have been running the 10 days of Crunchgear contest, and giving away some really slick schwag.

I am tickled to report I won a Nokia BH-800! which is just awesome.. Thanks gents.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Office 2008 for Mac is the only thing holding me back before I make the switch.

For the last 5 months (I make slow computing decision) I have been contemplating the switch to Mac, I have used one periodically and just love the thing - but the only piece of the puzzle holding me back is the availability of an updated Outlook client for the platform. I have tinkered with other email/calendaring applications, but I like Outlook, and I have zero interest in moving off of it.

I know I can run parallels or VM ware, and accomplish much of what I am after; but that just doesn't appeal to me, it seems like a bit of a hack just to run an application that I live in, natively.

Granted the first thing I will install will be Boot Camp/Parallels on my new Mac, I just really want a seamless Outlook environment that is Mac centric.

I am pretty excited for this version of Office, not only should it provide a more user friendly Office environment - but it allows me to finally get off the Windows platform, that causes me nothing but headaches day in and day out..

Please Office for Mac team - you're my only hope.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ooma or a Nokia N800.. Hmm let me think...

The blogosphere is abuzz with the announcement of the zero cost calling solution Ooma. Ooma provides a $400.00 shiny ATA that meshes up with its peers and creates a free calling solution in the US. They have gone through 2 rounds of financing over 3 years and have raised 27 Million.

The Nokia N800 internet tablet (probably the coolest device ever made) retails for about the same amount.

To be blunt, the chances of me spending 400.00 on an ATA (which can be had for 40.00) or getting a N800 that does everything the Ooma does and way way way way more, is pretty slim. What boggles my mind is Ooma and the investors really think they have something unique, I am just speechless.

There are so many things wrong with this pre-launch and technology strategy, it is impossible to write it all down.

I hope someone takes David up on his Ooma challenge - Voice 2.0 took a huge step back today, lets hope someone takes two steps forward.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Facebook Crosses 30 Million users - unbelievable

According to Carloyn @ the Facebook Blog, they just crossed 30 million active users of the site. That is incredible growth. Amazing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Where is the Vonage Price reduction for Canada? Our dollar is @ par with the US$

I don't get Vonage, they have attached a premium to CDN service since its inception - and now the CDN $ is very close to @par with the US$ - and still CDN pricing hasn't changed.

24.99 - unlimited premium service on
39.99 - unlimited premium service on

What gives Vonage?

*Update (Oct. 25/2007) - I spoke to a CSR at Vonage today and they said that they price according to competitive local rates. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, IP has no boundaries, there are no additional costs to operate in Canada, yet they continue to overcharge Canadian customers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Callburner - the BEST Skype calling solution.

Recently I installed a copy of Callburner, a Skype recording tool - from Netralia software ltd, based out of Australia. Netralia is famous for there other home run Skype solution called Skylook - a product which completely Skypifies Outlook.

Callburner takes the best of Skylook (the recording feature) and allows it to run as a standalone desktop app., that does one thing - Record all Skype calls perfectly. It is really slick, the GUI looks like a native Office 2007 application and it resides in your system tray with a little hot pepper icon It does everything I want in a windows application - hides itself seamlessly, uses little memory, looks great and functions perfectly and behind the scenes.

This is a must have for Podcasters, you can record in .wav, .mp3 or raw PCM to a separate file & either side of the conversation separately or together - including SkypeIn/Out and conference calls. It even allows for note taking after a call. Great job guys.

Callburner comes with a 14 day free trial, after which you can purchase a license for $49.99. It is a little pricier than the other recording solutions for Skype, but it is worth it.

How to get banned from Google for searching for Fedex

Strangest thing I have ever seen, I have been anxiously awaiting a Fedex parcel, and did a Google search from within Firefox for - Fedex Tracking.

I mistakenly replaced the e in Fedex with a 3 - so I inadvertently searched for 'F3dex'. The search results came up, but when I clicked on one of them I found myself locked out of Google and forced to enter a code to prove I was a real person. No other Google searches would work until I proved my IP/PC (I guess) was a real person. Everything works now, but I was temporarily in panic mode, as I thought I had unleashed the wrath of the big G on myself.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Paul Potts

Just watch it. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why the iPhone is good for Mobile VoIP

For the record I am not an Apple fanboy (I do however own an iPod, and soon will convert to a MacBook) - but to be blunt, I am really impressed with Apple. Not because they make trendy cool products, but because they seem to be the only company that (solely) has the end use in mind when they design products.

The upcoming release of the over hyped iPhone illustrates my point perfectly. As demoed by Apple; the upcoming iPhone has a unique capability they call Visual Voicemail. In and of itself this isn't really earth shattering, but it represents a clear shift in power for handset manufacturers worldwide.

Visual Voicemail is a usability godsend. Basically you will have a visual representation of the VM's in your box, and will have the ability to send/forward/listen/delete in any order all of your messages via a touch screen GUI. I can't stand VM, on my mobile - I dread having to dial in, enter a PIN and listen to 4 messages to hear the one I want. Visual Voicemail is a killer app., for mobile.

Where this gets interesting is that Apple didn't invent it. Visual Voicemail in many iterations ( Grandcentral Mobile - so very cool) has been around for a decade, but until now - no handset manufacturer has forced a carrier to build the back end to support it. There are some smart cookies at Nokia, Motorola - and I know they have thought of this in the past, but when they approached carriers - the carriers probably oo'd and awe'd then saw the amount of work needed to provide it on there backend and politely asked them to never bring it up again. The current raft of handset providers cower and retreat when their #1 (and only) customers tell them to do something. Whether it be crippling features like bluetooth or wifi to prevent VoIP calls or locking handsets to a specific network - the list of examples of handset vendors sacrificing usability and end users for profit is well documented. Look at Skype's petition of the FCC - imagine Skype on the iPhone?

Then along comes Apple and turns the 'cart' upside down. I imagine the 'negotiations' went something like this..

Hmm AT&T you want to partner with us eh?? ok great, well can you have this new voice mail infrastructure built out in 18 months? - we are going to need you to offer a new data plan as our phone uses data, so change that - and while your at it, we have unfettered access to wifi, so in the future we are going to add a SIP client and steal minutes from you. Kapeesh? Great, sign here - press hard, there are 3 copies...

So Kudo's to Apple for humbling wireless carriers, for your next trick can you come up to Canada and kick the powers that be @ Rogers squarely in the 'nads' - we have the most expensive mobile data in the world by a factor of 1000x, and you won't sell unit 1 of iPhone up here until you do - and I think I kinda' want one.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Safari/IE/FF CPU usage on a PC: Safari Wins

** Update - Safari is gone, getting me to switch from Firefox, will be next to impossible. Like Skype, the provider would have to hit a home run out of the gate in order to make me change.

I fired up all three browser running on a Aspire 1690 Pent M 1.5 with 2G of Ram.

I had 3 tabs open running the exact same sites. My Yahoo, iGoogle, and Techmeme.

IE7 - Memory Usage: 76 44K (no addons installed)
FF 2 - Memory Usage: 64 044K (addons installed Facebook Toolbar, Mouse Gestures, PDF Download)
Safari - Memory Usage: 62 860K

Impressive results for Safari, not only is it noticeably faster, but it uses less memory out of the box as a beta than the other incumbents. I am going to continue to play with it - it isn't perfect, it seems to have some funky ways of dealing with sites that open up frames, but it is a pretty impressive quick browser.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ticketmaster & Bon Jovi & iTunes do something Brilliant

Bon Jovi, Ticketmaster and iTunes - have done what I consider to be the perfect solution to the problem of illegal distribution of music via the web and the inability to track down (and monetize) file sharer's that have been to this point harder to catch than something Slippery When Wet.

In a promotion that can only be described as red hot, and I mean 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit - iTunes/Ticketmaster have (for the Upcoming New Jersey concert) decided to Keep the Faith with the fans of the band and through American Express, are offering preferred seating and early ticket sales to anyone who purchases a digital copy of the album distributed via iTunes.

I see this as a Cross Road in the delivery of digital media, it is rare to see a forward thinking solution These Days in an industry that is muddled with RIAA extortion and 19th century thinking by record companies. I like this for a few reasons, it gives the fans a chance to Bounce to the front of the line and support the artist monetarily, it has to be great of the artist as it can remove them from the Crush of the record companies as they can easily distribute music and sell more tickets to concerts (where they make the bulk of there profit anyway).

In an industry that looks like a Lost Highway, This Left Feels Right.

Have a Nice Day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fonality vs. Nortel - David beats Goliath

Tom Keating published a great little story about a week ago, stating that Fonality had won a deal with a Nortel affiliate called Blade for the installation of their Asterisk based PBX solution - directly displacing a comparable solution from Nortel.

On the surface, not too terribly exciting, but in reality this is a pretty big win for a company like Fonality and Asterisk in general. You see, the Fonality solution essentially is 1/2 (if not less) the price and offers twice the functionality of the comparable Nortel solution. Having sold Nortel solutions in the past, this is absolutely the truth. The proprietary nature of closed PBX solutions, cost business generally twice that of a comparable solution from an open source vendor and with greatly reduced functionality.

Where the story gets really interesting, is how a Nortel executive responds to Tom Keating's blog post. To put it mildly, the guys from Fonality basically said the Blade CEO 'flipped out' demanded to return it and retract a press release that they issued saying it was cheaper, and easier to configure, after I assume getting a phone call from Nortel brass. This will go down in the annals of 'stupid executive moves' of 2007.

Kudo's to Fonality for winning the deal - the losers here are the guys at Blade, who will now not get a Fonality system, but an overpriced proprietary solution from Nortel. I am sure the shareholders of Blade will be happy to know they company is spending money for no reason whatsoever on communication costs twice!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Skype forced to provide Wiretap for P2P calls?

via Computer World - The FCC (in 2005) put forth a requirement to all VoIP providers that connect to the public telephone network, to provide methods to allow LEA to wiretap conversations.

According to the Computer World article.

The broadband and VOIP providers had to send the FCC by March 12 a plan to comply with CALEA, and by Monday they had to either set up a system that allows monitoring or hire an outside company to make it possible. Those that don't comply must make a good-faith effort to do so and may be referred for enforcement.

This requirement is a little ambiguous, in Vonage's case - they would need to provide wiretap capabilities for both OnNet and OffNet calls without question - in both cases someone is calling a phone number (even if it is redirected to a SIP URI), however Skype operates a little different than a traditional ITSP - in Skype's case would they be forced to provide a method of 'listening' for calls that are on the P2P network? Wiretapping a call that terminates to the PSTN via a SIP gateway wouldn't be that difficult; but Skype has publicly said in the past that all traffic on the P2P is encrypted and even they cannot listen in on calls or messages the way the system is set up.

So will the FCC force them to open up a method to do so, if they don't comply voluntarily? Or are P2P calls not subject to the same wiretap rules? It seems to be a bit of a grey area.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

eBay & Skype - where's the integration?

eBay's purchase of Skype promised innovative, unheralded e-commerce and voice capabilities merged into one cohesive platform, this transaction (nearly 2 years old; or an eternity in internet time) has brought little other than some superficial trials at integration. Paypal, eBay and Skype (the power of 3 as discussed at last years devcon) are still very disparate, separate companies.

This is a screen shot of eBay's IM notification service. It is pretty obvious who is missing, my question is - How can this possibly be allowed to happen? If I paid several billions of dollars for an IM platform, I am pretty sure I would integrate it into my core business and stop promoting my competition.

There is something greater than the sum of the parts to be achieved, but I am not sure the powers @ eBay understand it.

Pretty embarrassing.

**Update Sept 5th 2007 - I don't know if my rant had anything to do with it, but you can now get alerts via Skype IM from eBay auctions! Good job (even if it did take 2 years)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Joost 'scores' an Overtime Winner !! (7 invites available)

WOW, this is a great announcement, looks like the lads @ Joost have 'scored' a deal with the NHL to begin broadcasting games on the Joost Network, starting with the finals of this years Stanley Cup. Combined with Premier League Football - they have the UK and Canada locked up ! Can MLB and NBA be far behind?

I have exactly 7 Joost invites available to the first 7 comments left on this post. Need your first and last name + email.

From the press release courtesy - On the Wings

NHL Content To Be Made Available On Joost In Time For The 2007 Stanley Cup Final

NEW YORK (May 1, 2007) – The National Hockey League (NHL) will offer free hockey programming to consumers on the Joost distribution platform beginning at the start of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. The announcement was made today by Joost™, the world’s first broadcast-quality Internet television service, and the NHL.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Needed - Director of Web Development, if you're still interested after seeing the video. :)

Probably one of the best lipdubbing's I have seen, Connected Ventures is looking for a new top dog to look after front-end development. Here is a video of an average day there. Do they look like they have any fun at work?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vonage Patent woes, solved by 3COM?

Andy has a very interesting post, regarding (what appears to be) a solution to Vonage patent woes. Looks like 3COM thought this 'VoIP' thing was going to be big as well, and patented their own PSTN/IP termination solution. Neither the Verizon or 3COM patent reference each other, so this could be the 'grail we are looking for'.

As always we can expect a follow up from Mr. Abramson with the results.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rogers 1 MB Data plan is $40.00 in Australia 3 cents !!!

Skype Lifestyle

Thanks to Jim, for pointing me to Ike's Blog re: the announcement 3 in Australia is offering a 1GB data plan with unlimited Skype calling for mobile, for 30 AUD$.

So just to illustrate how badly CDN wireless providers are taking advantage of us - Rogers charges $40.00 CDN for 1MB of data on a Blackberry Calling plan, in Australia the same amount of traffic is 3 cents!!!

More to follow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rogers Data Rates are LUDICROUS

I have been screaming about this for months now, and thanks to Tom Purves we have a visual representation of how bad we are getting screwed by Rogers Wireless in Canada.

$ 1600.00 for 500MB of Data. It is no Joke! they really charge that and think it is ok. I just checked out Tmobile USA, they have a 79.99 Unlimited World Data plan. We need to call Rogers to task on this, what is the best way to do it?

Rogers are you listening? This has to stop and stop NOW.

Update - I just rec'd my Rogers Bill which included a recent trip to CeBit and had with it a ridiculous charge for Data (about $50.00/mb). Needless to say I immediately called Rogers to inquire what plan would have been the right one to have for international roaming (knowing full well they don't offer that service) after the CSR failed to find a plan that would have covered me they acknowledged the issue and removed the charges from my bill, this time only.

To quote Peter Finch "I'm mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore"

Monday, March 26, 2007

Vonage/Verizon Patent Dispute Dissected

Ipurbia has a great post on the details (sadly unavailable on the web) about the Vonage/Verizon patent dispute.

It appears that Skype and other VoIM clients are in the clear, but Level 3 and other Termination providers might be in the crosshairs in the future.

Worth the read.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 Traffic Ranking by Country (US = 13%)

Alexa's new features (announced last week) sort traffic on a website by country now. It is a very handy feature and a welcome improvement.

Here are the traffic rankings for per country.

I have been searching for an updated list of 'Skype users by country' and 'revenue by country' but haven't been able to find anything recent. It would be interesting to see how the two statistics correlate with 'traffic by country'.

Usually in business 20% of your customers represent 80% of your revenue (if not higher) but in Skype's case - no one country (I am guessing) overwhelms the rest, the top 25 are listed which make up 70% of traffic, and the rest of the world = 30%. It poses an very interesting and challenging task for Skype Marketing. How do you market to the entire world if you don't have the budget like Coca Cola, and do you concentrate on the 25 countries that make up 70% of your traffic and forget about the rest of the world? Neither of which is an easy task.

The solution it seems would be to co-brand your client and work with as many #1 and #2 portals worldwide to get it out there. Something that Skype has done in the past (China, Japan Poland that I know of), but you don't hear much about anymore. The revenue numbers from co-branding partners would also be very interesting to see - maybe it isn't worth the work.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Skype and Spinvox... I guess it's sort of cool

via Andrew Watson @ The Independent

According to a news story from The Independent, Skype has announced a deal with Spinvox which is a UK based company with a reported 130K users. Spinvox converts voicemail (VM)messages to text messages that are then delivered to the users mobile phone. This will be handy for avid Skype users who (at this point) don't have a method of retrieving voicemail from any source other than the Skype client.

I am lukewarm to this service, mostly as Skype seems to have jumped a big step in the evolution of VM. Simply having the VM messages delivered as mp3/wav attachments via email would be a welcome addition for Skype VM. Currently messages are proprietary in nature and only available through the Skype p2p network, which to be blunt - sucks - and is a huge limiting factor to Skype VM adoption and usage. A web interface and portal of my messages would really tie me to Skype as a communication tool, even when I am not logged onto the p2p. Every other VoIP solution currently offered in NA provides this basic form of Unified Messaging.

Personally I wouldn't pay for the SpinVox solution, if it was free I would probably use it - I imagine more text/SMS centric people will think differently. But as a member of the Blackberry faithful I would rather just get an attachment sent to my mobile/email, that I can then store and forward a la' Apple's new Visual VM for the iPhone.

There is no mention of the deal on Skype's website as of this writing, but I will update if they release a press statement regarding SpinVox.

Friday, February 09, 2007

DOING OUR BUSINESS is what computers are for.

Whatever you do or whatever you learn will be imprinted on this disc. If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

Courtesy Tech Digest

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Skype Luke Johnson - He is waiting for your call

Luke is running a social experiment by posting his mobile number on the internet for everyone to see. His goal is to receive as many calls as possible from total strangers all over the world. A side goal will be to drive his wife insane.

The media is no longer the message; the message is we are becoming the media.

Hat tip - Alec.

Tagline - Binkle

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Geni - Skype Enabled

Mike Arrington over at Techcrunch, broke the news yesterday about a new family tree generating social network of sorts launching. This one is called Geni. Generally I think the world needs another social network like I need a high-colonic in Tijuana but Geni is different, much different.

Naturally a 'beta' Geni launched yesterday with limited bandwidth and resources, hoping to get a few 1000 or so beta customers on day one. Their servers were essentially shut down, and site broken shortly after the Techcrunch post.

A quote from the Geni Blog

As you probably know by now, we've experienced unanticipated and overwhelming levels of interest at Geni, and the site has been slow all day and offline at times. We are in the process of adding several new servers, and performance should improve later today. We'll post a new entry here when everything is up and running. Until then, please be patient, and thanks for your interest in Geni!

But why was Geni so popular?

Geni is a flash based family tree generator, and quite frankly it rocks. This has the potential to be the most viral social network in history. Normally you join a social network and ask a few friends to join that share similar interests, this is where Geni is different. Here you drag and drop (very intuitive) boxes that become your family tree. When you add a relative, you can fill in what you know about them in the profile, and when you add an email to their profile - they are in turn given a password and access to the tree to add additional information.

Most impressively, Geni has a place for Skype usernames in the profile, so if you add one - they use the Skype presence server to display real-time user status. Eventually I imagine you will be able to initiate IM's and group chats with your family - all from Genie. (they are just touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what they can do with Skype)

Head over to Geni and check it out - you won't be dissapointed, other than for the fact it is still a bit slow - as I imagine the traffic is still out of control.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cars of CES

I snapped a few photo's on the hour of down time I had at this years CES. I like the Hummer the best..

From Cars of CES 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

Podtech and Seagate, the new Black...

After a horrible night in a 1/2 star hotel and a late flight, a lost wallet in a cab, a beacon of light appeared at this years CES. It is called the Podtech Bloghaus - a mirage of tranquility if you will, in the middle of the desert.

Seagate (my new favorite drive company) and Podtech have sponsored a suite in the Bellagio hotel for bloggers to meet, blog, chat, eat... all on the house. This is a great idea and very appreciated, and really illustrates, how differently CES is being covered this year with respect to media.

The cross section in the room is quite remarkable, there are bloggers, podcasters, video bloggers, all surrounded by mainstream media.

Thanks to Podtech and Seagate for making this happen.

You can see, Phil Wolf of the Skype Journal on the large Plasma being interviewed, real time blogging...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Test the Venice Project - 2 invites avail.

I have 2 invites to join the Venice Project beta. The first two people that comment below get one. Leave an email address in a spam proof way along with your first and last name.