Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MPAA retraction (lies and damned lies)

Whoa....This is interesting:

THE MPAA retracted the findings of a study it used to push for anti-file-sharing legislation since 2005. The Association had consistently claimed that 44% of the movie industry’s domestic losses were caused by illegal downloading of movies on college campuses. However, the true number was actually 15%. The MPAA blames “human error” for the mixup.
It took them 3 years to figure this out?

If I do 'human error' stuff like that, the people I know call it 'lying'.

If I then use it to try to change the law, as the MPAA did here, everyone I know calls it 'fraud'.

But hey, that's just me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Apple eWorld Art- vintage 1992-1994

As promised in a previous post, here's some artwork from eWorld, an online service we developed during my Apple Era. For context: I was head of R&D for Apple Online Service during this period and these are from a group I ran called CAT (Collaberative Applications and Tools, also know as cool activities and toys).

Most of this wasn't used and is concept only. Special 'wow' to Cleo Huggins, who, along with her small interface team, was the primary design thinking behind this artwork and the concept (at Apple) of creating a tiny virtual 2D version of the world online.

A version created for France Telecom (minitel):

Early Concept Mockups:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Change is good.

Well, more accurately, change can be good.

As some of you you may know, my day job is running a company called ClickCaster. It's goal was to become the premier podcasting service (create, publish, and find audio and video podcasts) on the web. We built a world class, easy to use and very powerful RSS media platform for the masses.

We were early, we had great technology, a excellent team and a popular service. The big issue was answering the question: How do you monitize podcasts?

It turns out to be a difficult question to answer. To date, no one's really hit it out of the park.

The good news is the technology needed to deliver podcasting is a very malleable thing. It mixes all the cool Web 2.0 buzz words likes RSS, media, audio, video, opensource, RoR's, Ajax, etc. etc. into a powerful platform that can deliver rich media (that's web code talk for audio and video) as channels of content you can subscribe to. You can use tags and directories as a guide to find things and you can use social networks to spot trends and use your friends likes and dislikes to help guide your own. And, of course, you've got great stats and analytics capabilities (we count good).

Channels, content, guides, analytics.... this is sounding like...


Among other things.

But We like Television. More accurately, we like video. And delivering video via RSS to the 2 foot (on your computer) crowd AND the 10 foot (on your big screen TV) crowd is something we found we were good at.

So, we've created a new business built on the ClickCaster technology platform.

We're calling it:


In a nutshell, it's a broadband television middleware platform.

It's built on top of proven ClickCaster server technology (99.99% uptime over the last 2 years handling hundreds of millions of hits). It has a deep media guide with 100's of thousands of channels with access to millions of videos. It has an easy to use set of producer creation and encoding tools and it can use our lightweight streaming P2P based CDN software (co-developed with the University of Colorado) called DistribuStream (which we recently released as Opensource software).

We've partnered with the folks at iPlatform, A newVideo Appliance company to create unique applications and capabilities on top of their set top box platform.

We're also working closely with the folks at Digital Effects to streamline our server technology to work as either a Software As A Service (SAAS) that we provide for you, or as a server appliance you can install in your own data center, co-lo or just set it up on your broadband video server, flip the switch and you've got your very own Television Network.

If you want to reach people in the living room, the lobby (digital signage), a school or training campus or throughout the enterprise, medioh! makes it easy.

Check it out: medioh!


Friday, January 18, 2008

Time Warner's 'variable pricing' red herring

Media 3.0 dude, Shelly Palmer, has two side by side tidbits on his site today.

One is how Time Warner is planning to charge for bandwidth. The second is how COMSCORE says video stats are going through the roof.

TIME WARNER CABLE is planning to experiment with new variable pricing for Internet access, charging users based on the amount of data downloaded. Tiered data packages will be available similar to the way a phone plan is purchased. A company spokesman says 5% of users take up 50% of network capacity by downloading large amounts of data. Trials are expected to begin in Q2.

COMSCORE has released its latest online video stats, revealing that Americans viewed 9.5 billion online videos during November. Google video sites delivered 31% of all videos and 41.8% of the 138 million viewers. The average YouTube viewer watched 39 videos during the month. MySpace, the second top video site, saw an average of only 9 videos per viewer. The average amount of monthly viewing increased from 3 hours to 3.25 hours.

This 'variable pricing for interenet access' is a red herring on Time Warners part. They want a tiered internet so they can charge more money. Not a bad thing in itself, business is business and maximizing profits is built into a businesses DNA. But not so if they're the primary bandwidth provider with monopoly or near monopoly status.

The Texas state Public Utilities Commission should say to Time Warner: No problem, do your variable pricing thing, but if you do we're forcing you to open your near monopoly network to other providers at wholesale prices that we set.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The RetroMacCast

You know you're getting old when someone calls and asks if you'll do an interview for a 'Retro' podcast aimed at Macintosh (and Apple) collectors.

James from RetroMacCast contacted me and asked if I'd do a podcast interview on eWorld. Sure I said. (hmmm... Are podcasts with specific niche audiences the equivalent of daytime interview shows with out of favor movie or TV star guests? Only here, it's some old tech vs. some old movie or TV show as the topic? hmmm)

I also suggested to James he get in touch with Cleo Huggins, who worked for me and was our primary interface designer for eWorld during the creation phase and he did, indeed, get her to agree and she and I spent an interesting hour recalling some of the old days at Apple and eWorld.

It was about 14 years ago that eWorld was originally announced (1993). Just shortly before Mosaic become Netscape and the internet was (truly) born.

Man, talk about lousy timing.

You have to wonder what would have happened if Apple had embraced the internet sooner. (WARNING: SCOTT APPLE RANT : WARNING) I left the company shortly after this announcement and I haven't seen Apple grok, even today, that the internet was where all this stuff was heading. Yea yea.. it sort of gets the online world, sort of, but not the internet world. It doesn't fully choose to grasp (I think they know, they just don't care) how it could leverage communities/social networks of people in powerful ways.

Why isn't Apple sponsoring a Facebook community? There's plenty there, and they effect Apple and it's brand. But, no official Apple involvement to be found. (sadmac)

I think Apple's relationship with it's customers is a little like the relationship between a 'bad boy' or 'bad girl' and the people that like bad boys and girls. You know who I mean. Those guys with leather jackets, fast cars, and lots of bad habits or the the bad girl... beautiful, a little nasty, spiked heals and leather under an evening gown types.

They love their woman (or man), but are also slightly emotionally abusive and distant and that seems to keep the girl or guy even more interested. That's how many seem to view Apple. A little nasty. Emotionally distant. Elusive. Enticing.

You can participate, if you're willing to put up with the abuse.

Anyway, I digress.


I'll be putting up some artwork that Cleo sent that she'd found in her own private archives of our old work on eWorld as well as some stuff I have in my own archives in some future post(s). I suspect some of the things we were thinking about and trying to implement way back in the early 90's might be worth revisiting now, and obviously, to some point are already happening, like 3D worlds. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Legalese a the end of your email? Think about getting rid of it.

I periodically get a sales solicitation from a company trying to sell us something. It's usually a cold call type email to see if we're interested in Indian software development services, CDN's or co-location services. These guys do one thing that really turns me off.

They put what looks like (but isn't) a legal contract (but it's just a legal sounding statement) at the end of their email signature. Like this one:

This e-mail is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential or privileged material. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited.

Hard to read isn't it? Small type, dim on the page.

Doesn't this bug you? Especially if it's from a smaller company (vs., say, AT&T).

Doesn't it make you slightly irritable? Make you think: why does this company put legal language in an initial solicitation email? Do they have so much business (or funding) their lawyers review how emails are signed?

And what's with 'this email is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed....'


I get it if the emails are legal discussions (such as two CEO's negotiating the sale of asset between companies). But an initial sales call email? I think: asinine.

I've decided that company's that open their initial contacts with me punctuating their emails with a slightly threatening piece of legalese at the end and that has the word 'prohibited' in it, anywhere, get's put on my SPAM list.