Category Archives: business

Fighting Fires Instead of Preventing Them



flame“There are businesses that want to make sure they keep making money by having cures that fix the last one, but not the next one.”

The above quote is from Dr. Fred Cohen, President of the California Sciences Institute, and inventor of the first ever computer virus over 26 years ago. He was speaking specifically about how virus prevention software builders are working only towards having cures, but not really towards prevention. This got me to thinking. How many of the patches and upgrades we install are done as an eye for fixing an existing problem, rather than preventing future problems?

As geek-tech workers, a more-than-fair amount of our time is spent putting out fires. Malware infected machines, network cables that have gotten chewed by mice or a rolling desk chair, trying to find a replacement cable for that syncing device that has been lost. Imagine how much time we’d have back if we weren’t busy putting out fires, and instead were looking for ways to keep us from having fires to put out in the first place.

One of my biggest beefs these days is the variety of cables needed for all the devices we have. My iPod has one type of syncing cable, my electronic note-taking tablet another, and the camera a completely different one. Then there’s the very strange cable that belongs to my Sony Ericsson phone, and the very odd mini-cable that goes to my Kindle DX. When I traveled last week, there were five different cables in my laptop case to accommodate the multiple devices I was carrying. When I set up for my presentation, my laptop’s USB ports were completely full with all of these devices as I demonstrated syncing and updating onto these multiple devices from my laptop. It was a virtual spaghetti factory up there on the podium, and I could not just plug in one cable and rotate devices around, there was a different cable for each one. No wonder people are always losing cables.

Standardization of cables and chargers would go a long way toward preventing problems these types of problems. So does decent cable management (what does it look like under your desk right now?). And in the case of malware/viruses, why aren’t we, as geek-techs, demanding that programs prevent infection, rather than cure it? If Dr. Cohen is right, and I believe he is, we are actually setting ourselves up for more fire-fighting in the future. And while that does create some measure of job security for all of us, it sure would be nice to come to work and do actual planning and development, instead of dealing with crisis after crisis.


Paying for Online News



Newspaper boy

Are you willing to pay for the news. That is what Rupert Murdoch maybe betting on. Rupert Murdoch is the owner of a media empire which includes the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. Lately he has been talking about removing his news empire from Google Search and putting them behind a pay wall

Clearly for this to work it would depend on if people are willing to pay for their news. I found an article on Technologizer that said that 45% of people surveyed were willing to pay for news. When I saw this article red flags immediately went up in my head, based on what I had previously heard and read. I wanted to find out more about this survey. The original article came from the New York Times, upon reading the Times’ article I found that the survey was done by the Boston Consulting Group.

I went to their Web site, where there was a fuller explanation of the survey. People are willing to pay for the news, but only under narrow and specific circumstances. This is the key paragraph that the New York Times and Tech chose to ignore.

“• Unique, such as local news (67 percent overall are interested; 72 percent of U.S. respondents) or specialized coverage (63 percent overall are interested; 73 percent of U.S. respondents)

• Timely, such as a continual news alert service (54 percent overall are interested; 61 percent of U.S. respondents)

• Conveniently accessible on a device of choice.”

Consumer, however are not willing to pay for news that is freely available all over the Internet. The consumers that are most willing to pay for their news are those that are already paying for newspaper. I suspect that this is an older and increasingly smaller audience. Even if consumer are willing to pay for their subscription, they are not willing to pay enough to make up for the lost of advertisement that newspapers have been dealing with. A pay wall might slow the decline but it will not stop it. The only way that newspapers can survive is to adapt to the new world, the old model is no longer viable and to try to save it is doom to fail


HP to buy 3Com



3com-logo-rgbRemember the early 90’s dialup internet? Back in those days, you were likely using a US Robotics modem. US Robotics was taken over by 3Com in 1997. Now, 12 years later, 3com itself is being bought up by Hewlett Packard (HP).

HP announced that they will pay $2.7 Billion in cash for 3com Corporation.

This will put HP in the Networking Hardware business. David Donatelli, H-P’s vice president in charge of the corporate-computer division, said 3Com has a better set of networking products for large corporate clients than H-P currently sells and a market share of more than 30% in the China networking market. With the deal, Mr. Donatelli said, “we get industry-leading products.”hp

“By acquiring 3Com, we are accelerating the execution of our Converged Infrastructure strategy and bringing disruptive change to the networking industry. By combining HP ProCurve offerings with 3Com’s extensive set of solutions, we will enable customers to build a next-generation network infrastructure that supports customer needs from the edge of the network to the heart of the data center.”
Read the press release from 3com here


SourceForge changes it’s name to Geeknet



SF04925LOGO SourceForge, Inc. announced on Wednesday that it has changed its name to Geeknet, Inc. to more accurately reflect the company’s business and the growing market it serves. The name change also supports the company’s intention to expand the reach of its online advertising services into new categories.

Sourceforge has always been a place to find open source applications and tools.

“Renaming the company Geeknet is the latest step in our rapid transformation,” said Scott L. Kauffman, President & CEO of Geeknet. “Our new name is a more accurate articulation of our business. With Geeknet as our calling card on Madison Avenue, we are now able to clearly define the audience we serve and more effectively capture the business opportunity that we are addressing.”

The Geeknet network, also includes  Slashdot, ThinkGeek and Ohloh, among others, and serves  more than 40 million geeks each month.

Geeknet has laucned it’s new website over at www.geek.net. Read the full announcement on geek.net

The sourceforge.net site will remain as it was.

I’ve downloaded a lot of great software from there over the years. It looks like they will be around for the long haul!


Will online media become a monthly subscription?



1003605_13011789 2-250rdRumors are circling that Apple is proposing an online TV media subscription model.  For just $30/month you could possibly have access to the archive of syndicated shows and the new shows as they come.  Later in the day I read of a favorite tutorial site, which shall remain nameless until I do a proper review, was bumping its fees to about $15/month.  Many of my favorite podcasts have donation links on their site for $2/month or so.  Please understand, I am a believer in paying for labor.  I am just beginning to wonder when this evolving online monthly subscription model will break.

Some people believe a service like Apple’s would get rid of the need for Cable or Dish and save some money. I don’t see that.  The streaming system is not ready for the high-def load and most people will keep the Cable and Dish for their instant viewing.  For those that jump into the online media, how many monthly payments do you want to sign up for?  I just can’t keep signing up for more monthly payments.  The inflation on monthly tech and media services is getting pretty high.

Cable and Dish consolidated traditional media into a monthly package.  What about online media?  It will forever and always be a mix of traditional and common man media.  How many packages can I pick up?  One traditional media package, ten small media packages, one cell phone media package. . .  A revolution in content delivery is underway and will continue to occur, I just wonder where and on what there will be a price tag.


Investment Time at Geek News Central



govideo09Over the past 18 months as you know I have been investing time and dollars and working through the challenges of putting out a decent video product. Up to this point it has largely been an experiment to see what works, and what doesn’t. I am geographically challenged here in Hawaii in that when I record my shows a large percentage of my audience is sleeping, thus live video has had its limitations.

While on travel last month, I decided to start posting the full video recording of the show to Blip.Tv and YouTube when I am recording in Hawaii. I will be doing this for the foreseeable future. With the capitol investment in the Tricaster last year, it has allowed me a lot of flexibility in streaming and post processing.  While the time investment to do this is significant I feel over the long haul I will be better prepared for the shifting dynamics on how the world will be consuming content.

With that commitment I have decided to put some significant capitol expenditures to bring the video quality in line with the audio portion of the show. This will start with professional lighting and significant work to the studio to make it more camera friendly. Ultimately if my office/studio is simply not adaptable enough I am prepared to convert a portion of a 30×30 garage space I have to a new studio. The general contractor I had in yesterday laid out my options and we will be weighing the need to move forward on that.

Being I am a one man show, there is only so much I can do when I am live.  Now that my son and daughter are getting older they are going to be taking a more active role with the video production which will let me focus on the content, plus they will get some serious production experience which if this pans out will lead to something bigger as they decide what they are going to do in life.

The Audio portion of the show will remain the main primary focus as is it pays the bills, so don’t worry that is a successful formula that is not about to be touched. The video portion of the show will be an ongoing work in progress, and while the content of the video portion of the show will remain the same, we may experiment with removing certain elements from the video version that are in the Audio. The reasons are quite obvious, to date there are no one man video tech shows without outside interaction that have reached significant audience numbers that put 75 minutes of content on the net twice a week.

While I have an idea for a segmented show, the resources and time to produce that are not there yet. At some point I may tap the resources here in Hawaii and bring in some help.  But until then it will be a work in progress. As I improve the lighting and work on the video format I am sure you will provide me the feedback I need to make it work.

Todd..


AP Tell Sites to Pay Up or Else!



In a Speech in Beijing, Tom Curley of The Associated Press and News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch said it is time for search engines and others to pay up. I have an idea why don’t the search engines remove all referenced to the Associated Press and their associated affiliates from their search results.

I’m serious just delete them and all historical links in their indexes. Drop all references to them in all parts of their websites. Then sit back for six months and see how they fare on their own. They cry of loosing traffic, well guess what they made their own bed and now they have to deal with it. They have failed to keep their business model fresh just like the music industry has. I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. [Google]


There are New Media Companies!



An article by Joshua Auerbach over at GIGAOM titled “New Media Demands a New Kind of Media Company” obviously attracted my attention. Even before the page loaded my brain was saying, I wonder what of new media company is he going to suggest. As you know I think I run a pretty special “New Kind of Media Company” as I was reading the article one specific sentence jumped out at me.

What caught my attentions was this:

“Content producers still seek privileged access to distribution”

This is so true, I am always hearing new media creators complaining that they are finding it very hard to break out, and that they need advice on how to get Apple to feature them on iTunes, (good luck with that as they never have featured my show either) or that they are looking for avenues to get their shows distributed wider. While the number of online venues are growing today, it is nearly impossible to break out on some of those major sites.

There is hope though, the key is teaming up with other media creators that are creating similar content. Affiliation with similar shows help the collective grow together. Sadly to many shows today want to go it alone, they think they don’t need to partner up with other shows.

Over the past five years I have learned one very important lesson, teaming up and providing a central location for similar content reaps vast rewards and is one of the reasons my team at RawVoice continue to partner up with topic leaders and develop and launch vertical sites that allow media creators to affiliate with similar shows and have access to world class tools that help them grow audience share and gain attention and exclusive distribution many seek.

While the article over at GIGAOM talks about the media conglomerates of the world the new media masterminds that I work with, feel that we are being that “New Kind of Media Company”.


MagicJack: Helping our family talk for cheap!



About 16 months ago I was visiting family and the TV was left on an infomercial for some reason.  An infomercial about free the internet telephone MagicJack was airing.  They would walk into a business and give them a USB MagicJack for free and ask them to try it. Of course all of the reviews were great.  I turned the channel.  Just another commercial.

And then my sister who works abroad in India called me.  She told me that she was calling from India on a MagicJack with a US phone number.  For free.  We had done everything in talking with her in India.  Skype, calling cards, you name it.  Skype was shaky due to low magicjackbandwidth.  Normal phone lines often had a delay of two seconds.  That led to some humorous attempts at communication.  Our normal fallback was Yahoo messenger.  And then this MagicJack.  The call was crisper than the phone but with only a millisecond of delay.  The land-line phone would drop the call one out of every 4 or 5.  MagicJack has dropped maybe twice in thirty calls.  And the price?  $47 for the USB device and one year of long distance.  Wow.  Currently you can upgrade to 5 years for $60.  So I signed up for the free trial.  I am getting ready to work abroad myself so having a US number anywhere in the world would be great, and the ability for friends and business clients to call a US number would be invaluable.

Pros:

  1. Sleek packaging with simple plug-n-play install.  I did have to unplug and re-plug it in one time before it installed properly.  The initial registration and number selection was very easy.
  2. Initial calls from the US to the US were very clear and the people could not tell I was on a web phone. One of the ten calls seemed to have a slight delay and scratch to it.  I should note that I was using a slow DSL connection of less than 756kb down and 512kb up.
  3. Call forwarding works great (Spoiler/Con: Must login to web interface to set the forwarding number. These options would be better placed in the desktop client).
  4. Option to purchase international calling credits. Would allow you to forward to a foreign number cell phone.
  5. Allows me to use any phone. I currently have a $15 cordless phone plugged in and it works great.  Simply plugged the standard phone cord into the usb jack and into the phone.  That simple.  Can use either the phone or computer interface to make the call.
  6. Two voicemail options. Normal voicemail that picks up if the computer is unplugged or you do not answer (no ability to set the number of rings before pickup).  The second voicemail and message option picks up if you are on another call.
  7. Email voicemail works well. Today I received two emails with an attached .wav file.  They stated the phone number who left the message, and how long the message was.  Worked flawlessly.

Cons:

  1. Computer must be on for the phone to ring.
  2. Phone interface on the computer has ads and could use an interface lift.
  3. Contacts feature on the phone does not import from Outlook or Address Book that I can see.
  4. Very limited website interface.  Poorly documented support section.
  5. Poor reviews of their customer service seem to be plentiful.
  6. Read complaints of dropped calls and or calls that do not ring through. Not enough people know of my number to have tested this.

Conclusion:

For me this appears to be a viable and very cheap option.  I have some reservation about the longevity and future development of the product.  Hopefully it moves beyond a shopping network and pitchman item.  For now it is going to keep me within my cell phone calling plan and help me transition to global traveling.  And I am so excited about the possibilities once Google Voice is out for public use!  I missed getting in on that by one day when Grand Central was purchased by Google.  Until then I am going to be a MagicJack user.


Help Wanted iTunes Application Developer



help2Seeking an experienced iTunes Application developer, for upcoming project. Developer must have excellent English skills and have a portfolio of previous iTunes applications that where largely developed independently. Must be able to follow a programing spec sheet and implement design elements provided. Developer must be willing to sign NDA and also agree to not re-sell code or re-purpose the code for another client in the same business space.

If you are interested contact Todd Cochrane @ geeknews@gmail.com