Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Re: The Pencil Drop. Have pencil, need money.

Just as Seth Godin just mentioned. Link-aggregating services (like digg, Reddit, delicious +++) are vulnerable to something he elegantly names The Pencil Drop. In short an organized spamming effort to get cheap traffic.

This instantly hits home with me, as I've noticed thatYouTube actually _feels_ less INTERESTING after being bought up by Google. I suspect this is caused by stronger integration with traditional media industry, and thus feeding me more oldschool 'promotional content'.

I realize this is a highly subjective opinion, but I've got the feeling something fairly similar can happen to decent link-aggregators out there.

A really funny example of this (as of the time of this wring), can be seen as the top entry of del.icio.us front page. The link page shows only that 160(at the time of writing) or so users needed add the page 'Swiwel.com: Coming soon' on del.icio.us. The page, at the time were empty sans logo and a promise of 'Coming soon'.

How could an essentially empty site with placeholder logo and no real content be added as a top entry to delicious? Take a quick look at the first tags and comments and tell me whether or not this could just as well be performed as a text-book Pencil-for-Money operation.

A quick surf prove that the sudden spike of attention (and present lack of content) is because of articles launched regarding the imminent launch of Swivel. A quick look of when links were added to delicious: Nov'05 One, Mar'06 One, Dec'06 160 and counting).. At least one article promising this to be a 'YouTube for data' over at Tech Crunch is one of the sources of attention. Case closed, mystery solved. But the fact remains that it could just as well have been pulled off as a one man Pencil Operation.

The availability of links offering easy connection to aggregation sites, like 'Digg this' offers an explanation to the quick response at aggregation sites like delicious. But the flash crowd-like response, and self-sustaining traffic from aggregator sites mean that there will be a 'demand' side to Pencil Drop-operations in the future. It will be 'interesting' to see how this will work out in the long run, for sure.

As a side note; I couldn't find any comment function in the original blog post (incidentally also found via popurls), and had to bother writing this up and whipping up a Trackback from this blogger post. This should be proof enough that the spam-mafia is hard at work, and successfully disruptive in making comments useless for low-maintenance websites.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Open letter to EMI Records Ltd.

Dear EMI Music,

I have apparently bought a medium that will not play music on my primary music system (Ubuntu Dapper Drake 6.06).

This is MOST CERTAINLY not the the behaviour I have expected at the time of purchase, as it was sold in a manner decieptively like regular CD's are traded.

The purchase of item 'Kraftwerk - Minimum-Maximum' was made under obviusly false assumptions, and was caused by LACK OF PROPER MARKINGS ON the sold 'Copy Control' medium.

I can bear not being able to hear the music, but the fact that I have been misled to spend an unreasonable amount of money for a service not delivered, grieves me deeply.

If you could,

A. Provide future releases of NON STANDARD media with CLEARLY LEGIBLE markings
B. Provide me with digital copy for the contents now unaccessibe (or thorough directions of aquiring the same)
C. Provide means of reversing the transaction that have taken place, where I get to keep my money, and EMI Records Ltd. can have another go at sellig the afforementioned album

, I would see this matter as resolved and refrain from further complaints whatsoever.

If solutions A to C seem unreasonable and impossible to implement, the least that I will settle for is an apology.

Sincerely Yours,
John Random

Monday, July 17, 2006

The best is yet to come.. by default!

Tech is a fabulous field to dive deep into. Because it changes, fast. And it's this that also bugs me sometimes. It is sometimes too much. Personally I'd really appreciate to at least have some warning beforehand. If only I'd have some opportunity to really wait for and rejoice the day it really materialize.. Like this multi-touch technology.

Somehow this makes me feel old.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Boy, oh boy, do i regret not spending enough time writing tech-posts predictinng future trends online. Robert X. Cringley just mentioned a bit more fleshed-out version of something I thought of sometime late 2004.

I'd feel a bit better about myself having that sort of idea written out, and verifiable somewhere. The line "Oh well, they might finally be catching on to the idea" isn't big or important, but would have made my day, for sure.

Anyways. The idea I got about film distribution is as follows:

I was aquainted with the iPod, probably of 20 or 40 Gb storage space, and had rented/bought lots of DVD's around that time. Considering the extreme amount of space available on such a tiny device, I still find it ridiculous that it's mainly marketed for distribution and rendering of music. About that time I also found one of the video stores with a DVD/VHS rental automat outside, complete with support for plastic payment and return slots for both VHS and DVD. Nice, only, it just seemed so completely useless, and 2-3 years late, since an DVD and especially the VHS are stupid technology for content distribution. They wear and break down after use. Since a full DVD take some 4.7Gb of data, even the smallest iPod would take several times its own weight and volume of DVD quality movies, it seemed like a no-brainer to introduce handheld mass storage devices for rental movie distribution. Somewhat exited, I couldn't wait for that to happen. But I still am.

Enter the iPod rent-O-rama:

The technical challenges might be a bit steeper than I care to think of, but the concept of the iPod as a video rental tool it quite simple. Whip up a serverbased video rent-O-mat with creditcard payment (maybe even coin or support, but that adds some unwanted security concerns) fiber-optical and power in from the back. The fiber-optics is the most obvious technology, but new content can be distributed by wireless technologies at as low speed as you want. Payment is really simple to do over GSM or other mobile networks. Transfer via iPod interface is the only new feature that needs some working out.

Being unfamiliar with the iPod interface, but assuming it runs at at least 400Mbps, a DVD could at worst take 95 seconds to transfer. DRM should be pretty simple, being in full control of the player hardware, it should not be too difficult to come up with a something that does what it's supposed to. Choice of rental duration and codec quality could be selectet at before payment. Both re-coding of DRM tokens, and watermark embedding should be able to tie the movie to a specific hardware item (the actual iPod), even optional advertisements connected to a rebate.

Secure storage of the content on the will be Apple's responsibility to decide over, but seeing the current standards are good enough for RIAA, Hollywood should be able and willing to go along with it.

The actual decoding of the movie could happen in the iPod, or, the easy route, packed into a souped-up version of the AV-dock (it already comes with Apple Remote, it lacks slightly more gearing towards Hi-Fi). The current iPod interface should be able to stream data quick enough for DVD-quality movies. For portability, a full-fledged DVD-decoder, or even worse HDTV capable circutry is a bit tough to pack into such a tiny device. To just treat the iPod as a dumbed down, portable storage is better for high-quality movies, since the main unit will be cheaper, and the regular user NEVER EVER consider watching hi-fi movies on the go. A sleek-ass dongle in spirit of Monster's FM transponder would be ideal as a connector to TV/projection units. It might not be the route Apple wants to go, but it sure would be effective.

I agree very much with the views of Mr Cringely that the ability to refill the iPod from geographical outlets are a great move to reach a new marked shares that don't currently have access to 10Gb+ DSL internet, or even own a computer (think big, the latter is still majoriy). There WILL be some years still, before 70% of iPod owners have internet access that can compete with physical links like USB or fiber-optical technology.

But i disagree on one thing the ideal partner for Apple isn't Blockbuster, for exactly the reasons he state.

The format of an ideal outlet would be a stylish automat with pilot-placements in large shopping centers, but eventually placed virtually _everywhere_ at the request of property owners in exchange of a fixed sum of money. An ideal partner should have previous experience in vending machine operations, and a rock solid brand name.

That ideal partner would be: Coca-Cola.

(I know about the Pepsi + iTunes, but I swear, I _have_ seen a co-branded 'Nano-Cola',more on that later)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Declining value of Internet real estate?

It's not breaking news, but it's a trend that I've seen lately:

Trying to remember the actual adress for a given web-site (and maybe miss), takes more time than just googling the right keywords in the first place.

Dot com domains are popular, all right, but the ratio of good, free domain names to taken ones are getting worse all the time.. Wich makes the lengths some people go to to secure themselves a pristine domain prospect seem somewhat disproportionate. There are at least ten new TLD's in the process of being reviewed for acceptance at all times.. It's not that we have all the TLD's we will ever need. But it's getting kind of ridiculous with all the new proposed top-levels.. Who REALLY needs another .pro, .museum, .coop or .aero? Not to mention the slightly funny .xxx? Porn sites already account for a sizeable chunk of the registered .com adresses, and it's not like we're out of variations of surefire words like (hot, slutty, steaming, grand-, midgets) .com just yet.. If people wanted an .com adress they could, and still will, get an, at pretty nice entry-level prices too. I got myself a prefectly okay (albeit nonce-word-ish) adress for a price of less than a cinema ticket, a year!

Adresses are pretty cheap to begin with, but still, the price some of the most expensive adresses are pretty silly, $7,5 million (pre-bubble in 1999, but still.. prices are climbing yet again) for business.com is a bit more than I can bring myself to believe.

A serious name is important, but most i find .com adresses a bit overrated, as the uniqueness of them are declining all the time.

There are lots of alternative names, or if one choose to think outside the .com box. The way the most popular TLD's are unique will be diluted by more extensive population of other TLD's.

Another thing that have annoyed me slightly (and for some webmasters, caused much grief), is the practice of domain kiting and sniping. Two minutes of late pay, and someone else suddely have all your visitors. It have removed my favourite oldschool game website from its dot-com adress to [new-adress].org, and always causes me to miss the first or second try, every once in a while i pop in.

Wich is reason for even more irritation. When the wrong URL is entered, an obviously low quality, portal-cum-searchengine pops up. It is even more aggravating than the blank bowserpage for empty urls. Every moment spent on that site is effectively a waste of my own time, it usually makes me spend from 5 seconds up to a minute minutes, to see what kind of page i have surfed onto. The other problem is that I'm generating money for those domain-sning webmasters..

It's really annoying Bob too. It is a largescale machinebased exploitation of the domain naming system, and what's more, in the long term, it would really benefit the domain name industry if there were real content on those pages, since all the current state of affairs do for me as a internet user, is to deflate a given domain name's value. Wich again put even more power in the hands of search engines. (Not bad per se, I really don't like the way it is happening).

Yet another case of dumb abuse defeating an open system?