Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kids Banned from Apple Store?

Sounds fishy... Emmaco designed the electronics for this store years ago....

WiFi Concerns in Santa Fe

The ubiquity of WiFi and potential health effects is being debated again. Although all the health studies say no, my mother had some large power line distribution not far from her bedroom and ended up dying from brain cancer. Obviously 0.1 Watt WiFi is not much, but...

Billboards Looking Back At You Now

You didn't think Digital Signage was a one way operation anymore, did you?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yawn- Vista Replacement Two Years Off

Microsoft Touts Touch-Screen Feature for Windows

By ROBERT A. GUTH May 28, 2008; Page B3

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Microsoft Corp. offered a glimpse of the next version of its Windows operating system, demonstrating a touch-screen technology that could spawn a new class of personal computers in coming years.

But the demonstration, coming at least 20 months before the software is expected to be released, also highlights the perception that the current version of the Microsoft software, Windows Vista, isn't living up to the company's expectations.

The new technology, which Microsoft calls Multi-touch, allows a person to use fingers to manipulate software through a touch-sensitive display screen, similar to those used on Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

A key feature of the technology allows for multiple touches simultaneously; for instance, dragging five fingers across a screen would draw five separate lines. Microsoft Vice President Julie Larson-Green demonstrated the technology by using her fingers to draw a tree, land and a sun on a laptop from Dell Inc. "You are going to see this in all different sizes and shapes of computers," she said.

Microsoft executives said the touch technology would be well-suited for editing digital photos and navigating Internet-mapping services. They demonstrated the software Tuesday at the D: All Things Digital conference here. Ms. Larson-Green used her fingers to use an Internet mapping Web site to find a Starbucks near the conference site.

Details about the software, informally called Windows 7, have been sparse. Microsoft executives remained tight-lipped about other details, including exactly when it will go on sale. They would say only that their goal is to begin selling Windows 7 around three years after the launch of Windows Vista—or about January 2010.

In an interview, Microsoft Senior Vice President Steven Sinofsky said the company is on track to deliver the software then.

Any details that emerge about the next version of Windows are closely watched because the software generates Microsoft's largest single source of revenue and profit and because a host of PC makers and software companies depend on it for their products.

By showing a feature of the product now, Microsoft risks diverting attention from Windows Vista, which though it has sold well, has received lackluster reviews. Microsoft executives have repeatedly pointed to 2008 as an important year for corporate adoption of Vista, yet many businesses say they aren't ready to make the move.

Mr. Sinofsky expressed confidence that the development process he is following will assure that Windows 7 arrives on schedule with new features such as multi-touch intact.
Over the years, the complexity of Windows has grown, making the creation of new versions a monumental and risky endeavor.

Windows Vista, which went on sale in January 2007 after several delays, took five years to make, years longer than expected. Microsoft says that as of March 31, it had sold 140 million Vista licenses.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Microsoft and NBC Caught

NBC inadvertently uses broadcast flag to limit recording
May 26, 2008 8:00 AM
Broadcast Engineering News

The situation was revealed when a viewer was recording Raleigh’s HDTV channel WNCN-DT1 on his Microsoft Vista machine.

In 2005, the FCC lost its attempt to legislate the use of the broadcast flag, used to prevent the copy of broadcast programming. But don’t tell that to NBC or Microsoft.

Last week, both companies were caught in a controversy that demonstrated how difficult the issue continues to be and how, despite a court ruling against the FCC, the flag continues to be employed behind the scenes.

A proponent of copyright protection, NBC claims it made an “inadvertent mistake” when it was discovered that it used broadcast flag encryption to prevent digital recorders from recording episodes of the network’s “American Gladiators” and “Medium” primetime programs.

Microsoft, which has secretly implemented the copy protection technology in its Windows Media Center DVR, said it was following FCC rules when its system blocked users from recording television broadcasts with a flag.

“Microsoft included technologies in Windows based on rules set forth by the [Federal Communications Commission],” a Microsoft spokeswoman told “As part of these regulations, Windows Media Center fully adheres to the flags used by broadcasters and content owners to determine how their content is distributed and consumed.”

In fact, the “rules” Microsoft referred to are not rules at all, but an attempt at implementing them to govern the use of broadcast flags — special code that broadcasters can insert into the data stream of TV shows that are copyright protected.

The courts struck down the FCC’s proposal three years ago, saying it lacked the authority to tell electronics makers how to interpret the signals they receive. However, Microsoft and other manufacturers have retained the option of whether to honor the flags in their recording software, although they are under no legal obligation to do so.

The situation was revealed last week when consumer Justin Sanders was recording Raleigh’s HDTV channel WNCN-DT1 on his Microsoft Vista machine and a pop-up screen appeared, stating, “restrictions set by the broadcaster…prohibit recording of this program.”
Sanders took a screen grab to prove what had occurred and put it on the Internet.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your AA Flight Reservation

Read the fine print...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nice Sound Masking System Package

Open Plan Office create a number of privacy issues. Sound masking is often employed...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Virtual Magic Kingdom to Close

Very popular free site originally set up for the 50th anniversary.... the only problem for Disney is that it was free....

Fans Resist End of Virtual Disneyland

Created to Celebrate 50th Anniversary, Free Game to Shut

May 20, 2008; Page B1

For Walt Disney Co., the task of opening a virtual version of Disneyland on the Web was relatively easy. Closing it, though, is proving to be quite a bit more difficult, thanks to the wrath of obsessive fans of Disney's theme parks.

See the rest:

Digital Savvy Consumers Presage Behaviors Across the Country

According to a new analysis from Scarborough Research, six percent of all consumers are classified as Digital Savvy nationally, but Austin (TX) adults are almost twice as likely as the national average to be in this leading edge consumer segment. Las Vegas, NV, Sacramento and San Diego are also leading Digital Savvy cities, with 10 percent of their residents having this higher level of technological orientation and adoption.

Eighteen hi-tech consumer behaviors and purchasing patterns were identified and isolated within the national study. These behaviors included household ownership of certain hi-tech items, consumer likelihood to engage in certain Web 2.0 behaviors, and usage of leading-edge cellular device features. Those who satisfied eight or more of them were classified as "Digital Savvy."

High Tech Consumer Behaviors
Household ownership
Satellite Radio Subscription
MP3 Player
Ways Used Internet (past 30 days)
Online banking/bill paying
Download podcasts
Download/listen to audio
Download/watch video
Instant messaging
Cell Phone Features Used
Download ringtones/video games
Messaging (instant, picture or text)
Stream video
Internet use on cell phone

Source: Scarborough Research, May 2008

Digitally Savvy consumers, says the study, are

56 percent more likely than the average consumer to own or lease a luxury vehicle;

175 percent more likely to have spent $500 or more on men's or women's business clothing during the past year and

49 percent more likely to own a second home.

Online, this consumer group is high-end in its shopping behavior, and are far more likely to spend online in high-end purchasing categories, such as automotive and travel, as well as every day items, such as books and clothing

54 percent of the Digital Savvy spent more than $500 online during the past year

35 percent spent upwards of $1,000 during that timeframe

Gary Meo, senior vice president, print and digital media services, Scarborough Research, said
"The most Digitally Savvy markets... typically have the presence of major universities and represent established tech corridors in the U.S... They are early adopters when it comes to fully integrating new technologies into their lives... their shopping patterns, demographics and lifestyles could presage behaviors of consumers across the country."

Active lifestyles and on-the-go living are the hallmarks of the Digital Savvy. They are far more likely to enjoy athletic leisure activities including basketball, yoga, free weights training and jogging. Given this active lifestyle, concludes the study, they rely on cell phones for communication and information. 59 percent of the Digital Savvy use their cell phones for email.

The Digital Savvy are male, young and wealthy

56 percent of them are male
77 percent of this consumer group is below the age of 44

They are 132 percent more likely than the average consumer to have an annual household income of $150,000

57 percent of this consumer group has an annual household income of $75,000 or greater

The just-released (PHP) Scarborough report, "Understanding the Digital Savvy Consumer," is available for download here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MiniProjectors Are Coming!

I want one...

Small digital projectors are in the works. These devices, when plugged into cellphones and portable media players, will let consumers beam video content from their hand-held devices to the closest smooth surface -- entertaining themselves, annoying their neighbors and possibly contributing to a new warning sign: "No Projectors in This Area."

The microprojectors, still in prototype stages, use light-emitting diodes, lasers or a combination of the two to cast a display in darkened spaces of up to 50 or 60 inches wide, or 130 to 150 centimeters, and perhaps even wider, and of 7 to 20 inches wide when there is ambient light.

Microsoft Telescope Released to Public

We've all seen the satellite shots looking down on us... this one's about looking up into space without the clouds or light interference. Interesting competitor to Google's....,0,4561082.story

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apple Running out of Old iPhones

Apple Inc. says its online stores in the U.S. and U.K. are sold out of the iPhone, a sign supplies are being winnowed ahead of the launch of the device's next generation that will feature faster Internet surfing speeds.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big Changes at NBC Owned and Operated Stations

All news, all the time...

Worth Checking Out

A new blog: The Online Examiner. Life is more than just maximizing revenue....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Stream from Your Home PC to your iPhone/iTouch

You don't need Steve Jobs' permission to watch TV on your iPhone any more. A native Orb client for the iPhone and iPod Touch popped up on the installer networks overnight, and Orb confirms that it's official.

The client software allows you to watch live TV on an iPhone or Touch wherever you are, in addition to your music. You'll need a TV card or adaptor for your PC, of course, to get the live TV. So provided you have an internet connection, there's no need to perform DIY transcoding using software such as Visual Hub. The client will even transcode the video stream nicely for 2.75G Edge networks. Orb does in software what Sling Media does in hardware.

Nice Primer on Acoustical Barriers

Pretty thorough coverage on the acoustics of those movable walls you find in hotel ballrooms...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Upcoming Southern California Theme Park Attractions

Not much, but something... I'm not sure Walt would approve of the concept of shooting at things from a moving car in Toy Story Mania, but life goes on...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

FCC Frequency Spectrum Assignments

Right handy chart to have available when something's annoying you...

Finally, the WiMAX race begins...

Sprint, Comcast, Google, Time Warner and Intel Join Forces in New Broadband Joint Venture

May 7, 2008 9:18 a.m.

The race to bring consumers ultrafast wireless Internet service is on.

An unlikely alliance of titans from the cable, Internet and chip industries have agreed to invest $3.2 billion in a company that will deliver Web access for cellphones and laptops at speeds much faster than what is available today using a technology called WiMax.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Telecom Joke

You don't hear too many of them, but here it goes...

After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed, British scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the UK newspapers read: "British archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the Scots."

One week later, "The Kerryman," a southwest Irish newspaper, reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 meters in peat bog near Tralee, Paidraig O'Dell, a self taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Paidraig has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Ireland had already gone wireless."

$35 Billion Mistake?

Oops on that Nextel call...

Sprint Mulls Shedding Nextel Unit

Weighing Spinoff or Sale, Carrier Could Unwind 2005 Merger

By AMOL SHARMA and JOANN S. LUBLINMay 6, 2008; Page A1

Wireless provider Sprint Nextel Corp. is considering spinning off or selling its ailing Nextel unit, people familiar with the situation say. The move would be a dramatic acknowledgment that Sprint's $35 billion acquisition of Nextel Communications Inc. in 2005 has been a failure.

CCTV Systems Not Working

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lost Your Luggage Key?

No problem. Watch this video supplied by reader Mike...

Powered Vertec

Introduced this week by JBL in Amsterdam...

AT&T delivers MediaFLO in 58 U.S. Markets

May 5, 2008 3:17 PM

Research has revealed that news and movies were the two most popular program categories consumers wanted to watch on their mobile phones (like the Vu from LG Electronics).
AT&T and its MediaFLO USA subsidiary is launching the AT&T Mobile TV with FLO service in 58 markets beginning this week. The new service broadcasts programming live and in color onto mobile phones.

The telco is also introducing two new exclusive handsets: the Vu from LG Electronics and the Access from Samsung. Vu is available for $299.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate. The Access is available for $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate.

The service will offer CBS Mobile, ESPN Mobile TV, FOX Mobile, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, MTV Networks’ COMEDY CENTRAL, MTV and Nickelodeon, as well as PIX and CNN Mobile Live, which are both AT&T exclusive channels on MediaFLO USA’s FLO TV service.

PIX, from Sony Pictures Television, offers a variety of contemporary films, including comedies, cult classics, action films and family favorites from the studio’s vast library. CNN Mobile Live provides access to 24 hours of breaking news with live streaming anchored coverage from Live.

AT&T said its research revealed that news and movies were the two most popular program categories consumers wanted to watch on their mobile phones.

For the next 60 days, the service will feature CNCRT, a concert channel delivered by Control Room. Every day, for 24 hours, the CNCRT channel will air one of approximately 30 recently recorded concerts from major recording artists.

AT&T Mobile TV launched in 58 markets including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Corporate Raider Gets Gonged (Finally!)

Anyone following Carl Icahn's career knows he buys a 5% of an American company, strips out their cash, and then forces management to pay him off to get rid of him. Usually the company is destroyed in the process (see TWA). That business model is dead. Read on to see what happens when you don't invest in new product.

Icahn's Motorola Morass
Joan E. Lappin, Gramercy Capital 05.03.08, 11:37 AM ET

What if you held a party and nobody came? What if you held a sale and nobody bid? That is exactly the situation at Motorola.

About a year ago, Carl Icahn bought 3.6% of the company's stock, either directly or through long-term options, for about $18.36 per share, or almost twice its current price. He was unsuccessful in securing a board seat last April in his proxy battle against then incumbent management. He could have gotten out then with not much of a loss. The market gods were trying to tell him something, but he failed to hear the message.

Icahn sought to "monetize" the Motorola (nyse: MOT - news - people ) mobile device business and have representation on the board of directors. Over the last five quarters or 15 months, Motorola's handset share has fallen from a RAZR-driven peak at the end of 2006 of 66 million units and a 23% share to a recently reported low of 9.4%.

Nobody wants to pay money for this tarnished brand. Competitors are finding that they can just steal the share with more exciting new products than the brain-drained Motorola can muster to market. Just check the inserts in your Sunday paper and see which brands AT&T (nyse: T - news - people ) and Verizon (nyse: VZ - news - people ) are offering up these days. It's Samsung, LG, Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) and BlackBerry from Research in Motion (nasdaq: RIMM - news - people ). Just about the only ads you'll see for Motorola these days are for a free phone or one at a bargain basement $29 price or a buy-one-get-one free deal.

Friday, May 2, 2008

RIAA Spanked in Court

Court Says Putting Music In File-Sharing Folder Doesn't Violate Copyright

by Wendy Davis, Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008 7:00 AM ET

The record industry lost a major court battle Tuesday, when a federal judge in Phoenix ruled that placing music in a Kazaa folder doesn't in itself infringe on the owners' copyright.

"Merely making an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work available to the public does not violate a copyright holder's exclusive right of distribution," wrote judge Neil Wake in a ruling denying the record industry's motion for summary judgment against Arizona resident Jeffrey Howell. Wake also ruled that simply offering to distribute music does not infringe on the copyright owner's rights.

The Recording Industry Association of America criticized the ruling, calling it "a strange decision that is outside of the mainstream and inconsistent with countless court rulings on these issues." The group said it's "considering all options going forward."

But Wake's opinion was cheered by some lawyers who represent defendants. "This is going to be the gold standard now," said attorney Ray Beckerman. He added that although the 17-page decision isn't binding on other courts, the sweeping, lucidly written ruling is likely to have an effect throughout the country because it's "the clearest, most comprehensive discussion of the issue."

The record industry had accused Howell and his wife Pamela of piracy for placing 54 songs in a Kazaa folder. In addition, the record industry's investigator, MediaSentry, allegedly downloaded 12 of those 54 songs, including tracks by Santana, Billy Joel and Toni Braxton.

The record labels sought to hold Howell liable for violating the copyright to all 54 tracks, on the theory that Howell made them all available for download. The court not only rejected that theory, but also ruled that the record industry wasn't entitled to summary judgment for even the 12 songs that MediaSentry had downloaded.

Howell said he had never intended to share those tracks, and the court said he should have a trial on that issue. "The record in this case does not conclusively indicate that Howell was responsible for making the 12 downloaded recordings publicly available," Wake wrote.

As lawsuits brought by the record industry are now making their way through the courts, judges throughout the country have recently considered whether placing music in a shared file like Kazaa is itself sufficient to prove a violation of copyright law. A court in New York recently ruled in favor of the record industry, holding that placing tracks in a shared folder can violate copyright law because such activity constitutes publication and an offer to distribute.

And, in a recording industry lawsuit against single mother Jammie Thomas--the first such lawsuit to go to trial--federal district court judge Michael Davis in Duluth, Minn. ruled that the jury could find Thomas liable if it decided she uploaded tracks to Kazaa. That judge found that the record industry did not have to prove that anyone actually downloaded the tracks.

But federal district court judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven, Conn. recently ruled against the record labels on this issue. Quoting from a treatise on copyrights, she wrote, "without actual distribution of copies ... there is no violation (of) the distribution right." The labels recently filed an amended complaint in that case.

Judge Wake initially ruled in favor of the record industry and awarded it $40,500 or $750 for each of the 54 tracks, but later vacated that order. The civil rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation eventually got involved in the case and last month argued to Wake that he should deny the record industry's motion for summary judgment.

In the last five years, the record industry has targeted an estimated 26,000 people for alleged piracy. Many have paid between $3,000 and $5,000 to settle with the industry.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blind Teenager Uses Echo Location

Unbelieveable video.... must see...

Lose Money, Make Millions!

Go figure...

XM CEO gets $4.85 million in compensation in 2007

The president and chief executive of XM Satellite Radio Inc. received compensation valued at $4.85 million in 2007, according to an analysis of a regulatory filing the company made Tuesday.
Nathaniel Davis, who took over as president and CEO in July after serving as chief financial officer, received a salary of $560,416, plus $747,500 in nonequity incentive-based compensation in 2007.

He also received stock awards valued at $3.54 million, according to Tuesday's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company's chief executive in 2006, Hugh Panero, received compensation valued at $3.71 million that year, including $3.075 million in stock awards.

In 2007, when Panero left the company as XM prepared for a proposed acquisition by rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., Panero received compensation valued at $7.27 million, including $538,522 in salary, a severance payment of $4.95 million and stock awards of $1.77 million.

The 2007 compensation came in a year when the value of XM stock fell 15 percent, from $14.45 a share to $12.24.

Washington-based XM and Sirius have received approval from the Justice Department for their merger, but are still awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission.
The AP's total pay calculations include executives' salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC.

AP Online

Home Depot Retrenching

Ah, the blessed quarterly accounting system strikes again...

Home Depot Inc. said it halted plans to open about 50 U.S. stores, some that have been in the pipeline for more than 10 years, and will close 15 underperforming stores as it cuts capital spending to improve returns.

They Are Their Own Customer

It's nice someone finally wrote what many already believed. Who would have thought the Wall Street Journal would finally come down on financiers and Mediapost on idiotic Mission Statements in the same week? Things are looking up.

Thank God for Product-Centric Leaders

by Gord Hotchkiss
Thursday, May 1, 2008

All you who have Google stock, take a moment to thank Larry and Sergey. You who have fallen in lust with your iPhone, stop and say a silent prayer for Steve Jobs. And you parents who spent many a peaceful hour thanks to your kids being glued to a Disney movie, face towards Disneyland and bow to Walt himself, may he rest in peace (or a freezer, as rumor has it). Thank God for product-centric leaders, because they are few and far between.

Customer-Centricity: More Than Just Words

I have spent many an hour in conference rooms listening to the new "religion" of customer-centricity that has suddenly taken hold of the mega-corporation X, Y or Z. The scripted lines are typically "We are here to serve our customer. We will find optimal strategies to maximize customer experience and revenue opportunities. We embrace good design."

It may sound good in the annual report, but it's not that easy. When you talk about balance, I hear compromise. Somebody is losing, and it's almost always your customer. Because as Sergey, Larry, Steve and Walt will tell you, there can only be one person driving this bus. Either it's your sales manager, or it's your customer. Come to any intersection and one will tell you to turn right and one will tell you to turn left. Who are you going to listen to?

Now, obviously, Apple, Google and Disney have been known to make a buck or two, so customer-centricity can be profitable. It depends on which route you want to take to get there.

If you take the customer's route, it means having the courage to say no to a lot of people inside your company (and out) along the way. And really, the only person who can say no and get away with it is the leader of the company.

The Product-Centric Leader

Here's a shocker, coming from me. The more I think about it, the more I don't believe customer-centricity is the key. It's not a goal, it's a by-product. It comes as part of the package (often unconsciously) with another principle that is a little more concrete: product-centricity. Product-centric leaders, the ones that are obsessive about what gets shipped out the door, are customer-centric by nature. They understand the importance of that magical intersection between product and person, the sheer power of amazing experiences. The iPhone is amazing. Disney classics are amazing. My first search on Google was amazing. Steve, Walt, Larry and Sergey wouldn't have it any other way. They focus attention on the importance of that experience, and know, somewhere deep down inside, that if they get it right, the revenue will take care of itself.

The other thing about product-centric leaders is that they don't have to do extensive customer research. They may, and many do, but they already have a gut instinct for what their customers want, because they are their own customer. Larry and Sergey invented a new search engine because the old ones were fundamentally broken and they were fed up with them. Walt built Disneyland because he was tired of sleazy, grimy amusement parks. And Steve knew that some people need a lot more than a beige, generic box because he's one of them. They have user-centricity baked into their core, because they're building products they want to use. They don't compromise in the drive to create a product that's good enough for them. It's a happy coincidence that there are lots of other people who also love the product. It's an intuitive connection that 99.9% of corporate leaders can't imagine, let alone do.

Managers Are Almost Never Product-Centric

The typical corporate manager has no special bond to the product. Along the line, too, many compromises have been made in the name of profitability. Whatever amazement the product may have once had has been sold off, bit by bit, along the way. The sales manager and the bean counters have taken over the steering wheel. They turn out bland, uninspiring products they wouldn't use themselves. They are not product centric, they're profit-centric, and profit really doesn't inspire anyone.

I've spent a lot of time wondering how so many companies can preach customer-centricity, yet continually miss the mark by so much so often. Look at the ones who hit the bull's eye regularly. It turns out that it's not so much customer-centricity they're aiming for, it's delivering products the leaders are obsessed with because they can't wait to use them themselves. That's a key element "Good to Great" and "Built to Last" author Jim Collins missed in his Level 5 leadership. Steve Jobs would never be mistaken for Collin's or Stephen Covey's ideal leader, but if I were looking for someone who's going to turn out a product that blows me away, Steve would be my guy.