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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What Will It Take For a Web Hang SiteTo Be the Next No. 1?

WSJ.com - Portals: "Second only to watching a company achieve great technological and business success, there is nothing Silicon Valley enjoys more than figuring out how, once attained, that company's success might be outdone. A great deal of this scheming is currently directed at MySpace, the social-networking site that has become the online equivalent of the local mall, a place for teens and twentysomethings to spend lots of time -- lots! -- hanging out.
Because the MySpace business story couldn't be simpler or more spectacular -- two friends start it in 2003 and 24 months later it's bought by News Corp. for $580 million -- there are now dozens of start-ups trying to do to MySpace what MySpace did to the first big social-networking site, Friendster. (Buyouts are being made all the time, like the $102 million Viacom said it will spend for Xfire, a gaming site.)
Hundreds of business books and untold thousands of hours of consultants' time have been devoted to advice on how to make these sorts of industry 'disruptions' happen. Many are a combination of deft strategizing, shameless copying, wishful thinking -- and some grasping at straws.
Always curious about how entrepreneurs approach the chessboard of competition, I found four MySpace pretenders and asked each the same question: If there is going to be the next MySpace, why is it going to be you? The question is necessary because to the casual observer, most of these sites look the same."

CP+B, VW Try the Shock Treatment

ADWEEK: "At first, it seems like an average car ride home after a double date at the movies. Two couples discuss the emotional pull of the tearjerker they just saw, but 'the sad ending' becomes a personal reality for the friends when, without warning, another car hurtles into them, instantly bringing their conversation to a halt.

Trembling, but seemingly unhurt, outside the accident scene, one shaken-up passenger quivers as she looks at the crashed car and expresses her shock. The spot, for the Volkswagen Jetta, is one of two that broke the week of April 10 and feature jarring, visceral scenes of car crashes to emphasize the message, 'Safe happens.'"

A Dunkin' Donuts ad for coffee addicts. By Seth Stevenson

A Dunkin' Donuts ad for coffee addicts. By Seth Stevenson: "The Spot: In one long take, the camera snakes through the bustling center of a small town, catching various blue-collar types in the midst of busy workdays. House painters, furniture movers, postal workers, tow-truck drivers—all of them are seen bopping around with various Dunkin' Donuts products in hand. Meanwhile, a singer on the soundtrack shouts, 'Doing things is what I like to do!' The ad closes with a new slogan flashing on screen: 'America Runs on Dunkin'.' (Click here to see the ad.)"

Search-Ad Behavorial Data Can Lift Sales

Advertising Age : "In the auto business, getting buyers into the showroom to kick the tires is the challenge. Online, that test is even steeper. For Discount Tire, the nation's largest independent tire dealer, keyword search advertising is one of its go-to marketing tools for attracting new visitors online. "

Monday, April 24, 2006

Corporate search needs to heed workers, Google exec says

CNET News.com: "The corporate search market is held back by the industry's focus on improving the technology rather than pleasing the worker, according to Google's head of enterprise search.
Known across the globe for consumer search, Google has sizable ambitions to serve business customers as well. Last week, the company introduced two search appliances aimed at corporations and gave details of third-party partnerships for technology to search specialized document types.
Speaking at the Search Engine Meeting conference here Monday, Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's enterprise search business, diagnosed why the corporate search market is dwarfed by the consumer search market by roughly a factor of 10.
Because consumers can easily switch search engines, there is a great deal of 'Darwinism' among Web search vendors, he said, meaning that those who are most successful at meeting people's needs are the ones that survive. "

IAC appoints new Ask.com CEO

CNET News.com: "InterActiveCorp has announced that Jim Lanzone, Ask.com's general manager, will replace Steve Berkowitz as Ask's chief executive. Berkowitz announced on Friday that he would be leaving IAC to head up Microsoft's MSN and Windows Live expansion. Ask has 6 percent of the search market, trailing behind Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
'Jim is one of the most respected leaders in the search industry, having been principally responsible every day for the turnaround of the Ask product and brand over the past several years,' IAC President and COO Doug Lebda said in a statement. Lanzone joined Ask (formerly Ask Jeeves) in 2001 as vice president of product management. Previously, he served for five years at eTour, an early cost-per-lead and information retrieval Web service that Ask Jeeves bought in 2001."

Surf to Your Heart's Delight

Wired News: "Saying surfing the web is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge has suggested that only a reprimand is appropriate as punishment for a city worker accused of failing to heed warnings to stay off the internet.
Administrative Law Judge John Spooner reached his decision in the case of Toquir Choudhri, a 14-year veteran of the New York Department of Education who had been accused of ignoring supervisors who told him to stop browsing the Internet at work.
The ruling came after Mayor Michael Bloomberg fired a worker in the city's legislative office in Albany earlier this year after he saw the man playing a game of solitaire on his computer.
In his decision, Spooner wrote: 'It should be observed that the internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work.'
He added: 'For this reason, city agencies permit workers to use a telephone for personal calls, so long as this does not interfere with their overall work performance. Many agencies apply the same standard to the use of the internet for personal purposes.'
Spooner dispensed the lightest possible punishment on Choudhri, a reprimand, after a search of Choudhri's computer files revealed he had visited several news and travel sites.
Martin Druyan, Choudhri's lawyer, called the ruling 'very reasonable.'"

WebSideStory launches latest site search software

CNET News.com: "Web analytics provider WebSideStory on Monday plans to launch a new version of its site search offering that will provide search results on any organization's Web site that automatically reflect user behavior patterns on the site. WebSideStory Search 4.0's Active Ranking technology lets marketers provide the best results for user searches on their site based on which pages and items are the most popular, which have generated the most transactions, and other statistics.
The software also lets e-commerce companies automate their submissions to shopping search engines without having to manually submit individual items or create custom applications. WebSideStory Search 4.0 also makes it easy for Webmasters to alert Google's Web crawlers when they have Web pages that require more frequent indexing in Google's search engine, the company said. "

L.A. Times pulls columnist's blog over fake names

CNET News.com: "The Los Angeles Times has suspended the blog of a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who posed as an Internet reader to defend his column and attack his conservative foes.
The Times learned of Michael Hiltzik's multiple identities from another blogger, Patrick Frey, who was slammed by the columnist under a pseudonym. Frey, author of the Patterico's Pontifications blog , traced the writer back to Hiltzik's computer.
In 1999, Hiltzik won a Pulitzer Prize at the Times with Chuck Philips for a series exposing corruption in the music industry.
Hiltzik's spat with Frey marked the latest salvo in the battle between bloggers and the mainstream media who they accuse of arrogance and bias under the guise of objectivity.
In a statement, the Times said: 'Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper's Web site, and on other Web sites, under names other than his own.' "

Friday, April 21, 2006

Apple argues for blogger records

CNET News.com: "Apple Computer faced tough questioning Thursday in its bid to gain access to electronic records of Mac enthusiast sites that published leaked details of an unreleased product.
Although a lower court ruled last year that Apple should be able to gain access to electronic records of the enthusiast sites, a three-judge appeals panel in the State of California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, peppered Apple's lawyer with questions. The judges wanted to know whether the information at issue represented a genuine trade secret as well as whether journalists' right to protect their sources outweigh Apple's right to protect its trade secrets."

Gonzales calls for mandatory Web labeling law

CNET News.com: "Web site operators posting sexually explicit information must place official government warning labels on their pages or risk being imprisoned for up to five years, the Bush administration proposed Thursday.
A mandatory rating system will 'prevent people from inadvertently stumbling across pornographic images on the Internet,' Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at an event in Alexandria, Va. "

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Google Travel?

News.blog | CNET News.com: "Is Google building a travel portal? That's the conclusion of a ZDNet story (ZDNet is owned by CNET, parent company of News.com).
Google has posted a job opening for a senior account executive for a travel vertical based in Chicago on the job listings site of Mediabistro. 'Your main responsibility is to drive new business revenue growth with our Fortune 1,000 advertisers in a specified vertical in one or more regions,' the ad says.
'Now, let us consider the content. Google could work with any number of content partners, but could also include travel selections from its Google Video inventory,' the ZDNet article says. 'These selections could be integrated with destination guides, and even with keyword searches entered into Google Travel searches.'
The article suggests that online travel site Orbitz, based in Chicago, could be the online travel agency partner for Google. "

Google beats estimates; sees profits, revenue rise

CNET News.com: "Google posted first-quarter net income of $592 million, or $1.95 per share, on revenue of $1.5 billion, excluding traffic acquisition costs--or commissions paid to content partners. Including those costs, revenue rose nearly 80 percent from a year ago to $2.25 billion. Excluding traffic acquisition costs and stock-based compensation, analysts had been expecting net income of $1.97 per share and revenue of $1.4 billion, according to Thomson Financial. "

Online ad spending reaches record level in 2005

CNET News.com: "The amount of money spent on Internet advertising in the U.S. rose by 30 percent last year to a record $12.5 billion, according to a report released on Thursday by advertising trade group the Interactive Advertising Bureau and independent auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Keyword search ads led the sector, representing 41 percent market share and $5.1 billion in revenue, followed by total display advertising, with 34 percent market share and $4.3 billion in revenue, and classified advertising with 17 percent market share and $2.1 billion in revenue."

Judge OKs Google ad settlement

CNET News.com: "An Arkansas judge approved on Thursday a preliminary settlement worth up to $90 million between Google and advertisers who claimed the world's leading Web search provider overcharged them for their ads. Under the settlement, Google will be required to pay up to $60 million in credits for future advertising on Google, and up to $30 million is available to pay lawyers for those making claims against Google. 'We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement and are pleased the judge has granted preliminary approval,' Google said in a statement. "

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yahoo busy with new initiatives

CNET News.com


Yahoo is considering offering a wireless Internet access service, and has launched a beta test of its Web-based e-mail for AT&T customers and cranked up the performance on its Yahoo Mail beta.

The TechCrunch blog reported on the potential Wi-Fi service Wednesday. A screenshot on the site "suggests that Yahoo's new messenger product (with voice over Internet Protocol capability) will be able to access certain Wi-Fi networks and allow IMing and VoIP calls," the site said.

"Now when you are on the move to the places that you go most--airports, hotels, coffee shops--you can stop twiddling your thumbs and start communicating via instant message with the people you care about most...all for free," the screenshot says.

A premium service with unrestricted access would be available for $7.95 a month, or users could pay $2.95 for two hours under a pay-as-you-go plan, the screenshot says.

Social Networking's Gold Rush

Business Week: "Just a few months ago, many experts and investors were inclined to dismiss social networking sites as a mere fad. Regardless of how many members sites such as MySpace (NWS ) and Facebook racked up, critics warned that supposedly fickle young Internet users were likely to rush away as soon as the next hot startup came along. And some advertisers were skeptical about the effectiveness of the medium, which features user-created content of a sometimes questionable nature.

Those fears could still turn out to be valid. The sky hasn't fallen yet, though. So with each passing month, investors, big media companies, and advertisers are being forced to seriously consider whether social networking sites can have a viable long-term business model. Whether or not there's a future for social networking, players that are high on the sector's prospects, or simply don't want to miss out on its potential, are pouring in serious money (see BW, 4/10/06, 'Socializing for Dollars').

HOT PROPERTIES. These days, new deals are made almost daily. Facebook, a site for college and high-school students, plans to announce Apr. 19 that it has raised $25 million in its latest round of funding from venture-capital firms. That same day, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS ), is expected to announce that it is taking a minority stake in SimplyHired, a job-hunting site with a strong social-networking component.(Murdoch jumped into the sector last year with the acquisition of MySpace, the leading social-networking site with a large number of teenage and young adult users.) Meanwhile, on Apr. 17, social-networking site Visible Path said it raised $17 million in venture capital (see BW Online, 04/18/06, 'MySpace For the Office'). "

MySpace for the Office

Business Week: "Make no mistake: Young people love to socialize on the Web. Tens of millions of teens and young adults use sites like News Corp.'s (NWS ) MySpace or Facebook to trade messages on home pages loaded with blogs, photos, and music.

Now a startup called Visible Path is hoping to harness the popularity of Web-networking to create a tool for businesses. The closely held company in Foster City, Calif., has just raised $17 million in a second round of venture-capital funding, BusinessWeek Online has learned. The fund includes $10 million from Menlo Ventures, $5 million from Kleiner Perkins, and $2 million from Integral Capital Partners, according to Visible Path CEO Antony Brydon. The deal will be formally announced in the coming days.

Visible Path isn't the first social networking site to target Corporate America. LinkedIn also courts the business and professional market (see BW Online, 04/10/06, 'How LinkedIn Broke Through'). The hope is that social networking will follow the trend of other communications, such as e-mail and instant messaging, which got a foothold among tech-savvy youngsters before gaining traction in business. "

Kids outsmart Web filters

CNET News.com: "Last November, Ryan, a high-school sophomore, figured out a way to outsmart the Web filters on a school PC in order to visit the off-limits MySpace.com while doing 'homework' in the computer lab.
A teacher eventually spotted the social network on the screen in front of 'Ryan,' a fictitious name for a real student attending school in Phoenix, Ore., a small town with a population of about 5,000. The teacher flagged the activity for the school's technology expert, who then followed Ryan's tracks online through the school network.
Ryan had apparently set up a so-called Web proxy from his home computer so that when he was at school, he could direct requests for banned sites like MySpace through a Web address at home, thereby tricking the school's filter. (Web, or CGI, proxies can be Web sites or applications that allow users to access other sites through them.)
'I eventually tracked down the (Internet Protocol) address, so that it doesn't work for him anymore,' said Don Wolff, tech coordinator in the Phoenix-Talent School District, adding that Ryan didn't face disciplinary action. 'It's against our acceptable-use policy, but he's not going to quit trying, (and this way) we can keep learning.'"

Google unveils enterprise Search Appliance

CNET News.com: "Google on Wednesday unveiled two enterprise search products--a Google Search Appliance and a next-generation Google Mini--targeted at large enterprises and small organizations, respectively. "

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Yahoo meets analyst expectations

CNET News.com: "Yahoo on Tuesday posted a first-quarter net income that was down from a year ago on higher stock compensation expenses but was in line with analyst expectations.
Net income, including $71 million of stock compensation expense, was $160 million, or 11 cents a share, recorded under a new fair-value method. That compares with a year-ago figure of $138 million, or 9 cents per share, under the fair-value method--or $205 million, or 14 cents a share, recorded under the old intrinsic-value method--and when Yahoo had $6 million of stock compensation expense, the company said.
Yahoo adopted new accounting rules this year that require all companies to record stock compensation expense at fair value in the income statement. Previously, Yahoo only recorded the intrinsic value of awards, if any, in the income statement and disclosed stock compensation expense on a fair-value basis in the footnotes to the financial statements. Yahoo has not restated previously announced results."

Click fraud rate lower than expected-

CNET News.com: "The rate of click fraud -- fraudulent clicks on pay-per-click-based online ads -- is less than 14 percent as opposed to the 20-to-30 percent or higher that some companies have previously said, according to a new report from a company that monitors click fraud for advertisers.
The Click Fraud Index shows that the overall industry-wide average click fraud rate is 13.7 percent. The click fraud rate at top tier search engines, like Google and Yahoo, is even less at 12.1 percent, the data show. The rate rises to 21.3 percent at Tier 2 search providers and 29.8 percent at Tier 3 search companies, according to the Index.
The Click Fraud Index monitors and reports on data collected by the Click Fraud Network, a free service advertisers can use to track their online ad campaigns. Click Forensics, which hosts the service, also sells pay-per-click validation services and licenses technology to advertisers.
Click fraud can occur when a Web site publisher clicks on ads on its site to drive up its revenue or when an advertiser clicks on a rival's ads to deplete its ad budget, either manually or by software bots in click farms. There is disagreement and uncertainty in the industry as to how big of a problem it really is. "

Monkey Bites - Domain Name swiping?

Monkey Bites: "This morning, Paul spotted this bit of news within a Slashdot thread discussing the launch of the Perens open source domain parking service.
As the user GoatMonkey2112 (no relation) points out, he performed a little test of his own design at GoDaddy.com. He went to the domain registrar's site, found an available domain name, added it to his cart, and then cancelled his shopping cart. He returned the next day to find the domain name parked, and thus available only by paying an inflated fee.
Disreputable hosting providers are nothing new. Some people have reported having their domains swiped within minutes of searching at other registrars. However, GoDaddy is one of the larger domain name registrars, offering multiple hosting packages and maintaining a high-visibility television advertising campaign."

Marketers told to keep steadfast watch on blogs

CNET News.com: "Big companies' ad buyers are warming up to the likes of blogs, RSS and podcasts.
But analysts warn that marketers need to approach this typically user-generated content with care.
According to researchers at PQ Media, advertising spending on blogs, RSS and podcasts will reach nearly $50 million this year. As user-generated content matures, it is predicted to account for more than $750 million of advertising cash by 2010.
Analyst house JupiterResearch tells marketing professionals to keep their eye on blogs, where opinions that can harm brands can be easily and quickly circulated.
JupiterResearch also notes that because so few of us actually make our opinions known online, those who do--typically, young men--are exerting a disproportionate influence across the blogosphere.
About 23 percent of Europeans make their opinions known through blogs, said the analyst house. JupiterResearch advises businesses to use 'buzz monitoring tools' to see how widely the thoughts of disgruntled customers have spread. "

- finally they catch up...

How to Form a MySpace Watch

Wired News: "Wondering if registered sex offenders with MySpace pages live in your neighborhood?


To investigate, you can search for your city or ZIP code on your state's online registry. Note: Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., don't currently provide this information online. For a list with links, visit the website of Prevent Abuse Now, or the National Sex Offender Registry.
Once you have a list of names, you can go to MySpace.com to search for them. You need to be a member in order to do this. An option enables you to narrow down common names you may be searching for by ZIP code.
Additionally, the monitoring service myspaceWatch.com makes it easy to monitor the MySpace activities of your teenager, as well as up to four others, for $6 a month.
If you're generally interested in the emerging genre of MySpace-linked crime, a couple of blogs have sprouted up to track down and post the MySpace profiles and other public websites of sex offenders and murderers currently in the news.
MyCrimeSpace and The Dead Kids of MySpace both read like a veritable Who's Who of putatively perverted sickos on the social-networking site, as well as places like Blogger.com -- even though the crimes are often unrelated to the individuals' online activities."

Read More @ Wired News

MySpace Faces a Perp Problem

Wired News: "According to his MySpace page, the 41-year-old San Bruno, California, resident is single, a Sagittarius, a nonsmoker and nondrinker, and counts an online stripper among his six friends. But California's online database of registered sex offenders offers a different profile of the same man: convictions for forced sodomy, oral sex and 'lewd and lascivious acts' -- all with a person under the age of 14.
A 22-year-old man in San Francisco comes off as a typical college student on MySpace, professing a love for beat poetry, nature and obscure coffee house bands. His profile doesn't mention that he's a convicted child molester.
Wired News ran the names of randomly selected registered sex offenders in San Francisco and neighboring Sonoma County through MySpace's user search engine, and turned up no fewer than five men whose self-reported names, photographs, ages, astrological signs, locations and (in two instances) heights matched those of profiles on the state's online sex offender registry.
In two additional cases, the information posted on MySpace was sufficient to suggest a probable but not certain match. Repeated e-mails to all seven men through MySpace were not answered.
None of the men appeared to have minors listed on their MySpace friends list.
Assuming the profiles are authentic, the easily verified presence of registered sex offenders in the online community highlights the difficulties MySpace faces as it seeks to clean up its content and public image, while maintaining the flexibility and privacy that has drawn more than 70 million users to its website."

Magazines Shape Up for Digital Future

Advertising Age : "It's a moment that has been anticipated for a decade, but that makes it no less seminal. This is the year, according to Merrill Lynch, the Internet collects more ad dollars than magazines. "

Is This Dodge 'Fairy' Commercial Actually Hate Speech in Disguise?

Advertising Age : "Faggot. Queer. Fairy. These are synonyms, epithets one and all disparaging gays -- or, more often, heterosexual men deemed insufficiently masculine. Let's call that Fact No. 1.

Macho brand
Fact No. 2: Dodge is marketing its new Caliber subcompact as a tough little car, as opposed to sissy little Civics, Corollas and the like. This comports with Dodge's long-cultivated macho image, as exemplified by the grunting, Aerosmith heavy-metal music tag punctuating every spot.

Fact No. 3 is that one of the introductory commercials from BBDO, Detroit, features the juxtaposition of a burly tough guy and his Doberman with a sweater-draped girlie man who is walking four little lap dogs. Fact No. 4 is that the only line of dialogue in the commercial is the burly dude exclaiming, 'Silly little fairy!' "

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dirk for MVP - Blog Maverick - www.blogmaverick.com _

Dirk for MVP - Blog Maverick - www.blogmaverick.com _: "Dirk for MVP
A team loses last years MVP of the NBA.
Then it loses its 2nd leading scorer to a division rival.
Its coach is in his first year as an NBA coach.
The team is successful in turning its approach to the game around 180 degrees from offense first, to defense first.
Four of its top 8 players are injured for weeks or months at a time.
This isnt a team of 4 all stars.
This isnt a team of 2 all stars, like the teams in the standings ahead of it.
this is a team of 1 All Star.
This is a team that most sportswriters picked to be in the bottom half of the playoff hunt with some saying they would barely make the playoffs and could fall out with injuries. This is a team that no sportswriter I can think of, predicted would win anywhere near 60 games. This is a team that has clearly exceeded the expectations of everyone who follows the game. "

Cops Walk the Cyberbeat in MySpace

Newsweek Technology - MSNBC.com: "As far as Jennifer Joffe was concerned, the party started the night of Feb. 23, when she let four friends raid the liquor cabinet of her mother's Boulder, Colo., mansion—and it ended when she stumbled up to bed. But the next morning it was clear that Joffe, 18, had missed some revelry. Mirrors were shattered. Walls were spattered with blood. Police say $40,000 worth of property was gone. And Joffe was certain that she'd been sexually assaulted (Joffe is a pseudonym; NEWSWEEK does not name sexual-assault victims). What she didn't know, however, was who was responsible for the rampage—and, without other witnesses, neither did Detective Ali Bartley. Until she spotted MySpace.com on Joffe's PC. 'It was like a Pandora's box,' says Bartley, who spent the next few days monitoring Joffe's online network of 'friends' (and friends of friends) and assembling a 'police lineup' of suspects from the portrait photos displayed on their profiles. By March 14, Bartley had arrested six young men—two of the original partygoers, plus four friends they invited over while Joffe slept—in connection with the crimes."

Google teams with Sony for 'Da Vinci' promotion

CNET News.com: "Google and Sony Pictures Entertainment have partnered to promote 'The Da Vinci Code' and Google Homepage through a time-sensitive interactive contest.
Beginning Monday at 1pm EDT, Google will release one Da Vinci Code style puzzle or riddle each day through May 11th and the last puzzle for finalists on May 19, the worldwide release date of the film.
While other Internet giants, such as America Online, have typically used synergies with parent companies or other partners to create media promotions of this nature, this marks a significant move for Google.
According to Google spokeswoman Eileen Rodriguez, this is the first time Google has ever done a cross-promotional venture tied to the film industry.
The film adaptation of 'The Da Vinci Code,' based on Dan Brown's best-selling historical-mystery novel, could give Google access to an entirely new base of users.
Participants must enter the contest through the Da Vinci Code Quest on Google Web site, and they must have a Google Gmail account and Google Homepage. "

Hackers give proprietary programmers run for their money

The Jakarta Post - The Journal of Indonesia Today: "It started innocently enough. A man wanted his company to replace his aging office computer with the new Intel-based Apple MacBook Pro, telling his boss that he could boot Windows XP on it.
Problem is, at that time, you couldn't. There was no software, method or boot loader that would allow Mac users to run Microsoft's operating system on the cool, sleek Apple hardware.
Putting money where his mouth is, Colin Nederkoorn put up US$100, set up a website (www.onmac.net), urged others to donate money, and launched an open-source software coding contest.
Ever since its inception in late January to the award of the prize in mid-March, over $13,000 was raised. Giving a new meaning to Internet advertising, the list of all donors, both individuals and corporate, was published on the web, some including links to their blogs or company websites. "

Kaboodle gets funding

CNET News.com: "Kaboodle, a free ad-supported service that lets people do collaborative Web research, was set to announce on Monday that it has raised $3.55 million in Series A funding from investors, including former Google-related scientists. Investors include: early Google advisor Dr. Rajeev Motwani, a Stanford University professor who co-authored the research paper behind Google's PageRank algorithm; Ron Conway, an early investor in both Google and Ask Jeeves; Georges Harik, former director of new products at Google, such as Gmail and Google Talk; Kanwal Rekhi, a managing director of Inventus Capital Partners; Ashish Gupta, the founder of Junglee, one of the first comparison shopping engines acquired by Amazon.com; and investors Shea Ventures, Garage Technology Ventures and Alpha Group, among others. Kaboodle enables people to create pages of Web links, photos and discussion on specific topics and share them with others. "

Thursday, April 13, 2006

EarthLink plans another Wi-Fi bid with Google

News.blog | CNET News.com: "The head of EarthLink says the Internet service provider will team with Google on bidding for a wireless Internet access contract in a second U.S. city after being chosen by San Francisco last week, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
EarthLink Chief Executive Garry Betty said the companies haven't determined which city to pursue. The next proposal will differ from the one they submitted to San Francisco in that it will be sustained mostly by paid subscriptions, he said. In San Francisco, residents will pay about $20 a month for a fast premium service and pay nothing for basic service that includes ads. The cost of that project is expected to be about $15 million. "

Google U.K. doodle contest

News.blog | CNET News.com: "The search engine known for its cute and colorful drawings on its main page is holding a doodle contest for students in the United Kingdom in what it bills as the first nationwide Doodle 4 Google competition.
'At Google, we like to reflect the ever changing world of our users through the logo designs on our home page. These 'doodles' celebrate different people, events or special dates and, until now, have been designed by our original Doodler, 28-year-old Dennis Hwang,' the Web site says.
'The 'Doodle 4 Google - My Britain' competition asks young people across the U.K. to design a doodle that represents what it means to be British today. The winning doodle, which will be displayed on the Google UK home page for a day, will be seen by around 18 million people.' "

GoDaddy As The Potential Catalyst For A New IPO Bubble

Techdirt: "GoDaddy As The Potential Catalyst For A New IPO Bubble
from the fits-the-billing
... dept
We've had a few stories lately about the IPO market -- and whether or not it was really opening up. Back when Google went public in 2004, there was a lot of talk about how it would open up the IPO market for tech companies again... but that turned out to be wrong. In retrospect, it isn't hard to see why. Google is clearly a special case for the market -- and could have gone public successfully no matter what the rest of the IPO environment was. To really open up the market again, there would need to be a lower profile, but still well known, company to successfully hit the market. While there has been some talk about how slow the tech IPO market has been there certainly have been some companies going public. Unfortunately, many of them seemed pretty questionable. "

Google Launches Google Calendar

PCWorld.com : "Google yesterday launched a new Web-based calendar service that will let users add meetings and events using their own words. Dubbed Google Calendar, a beta version of the service is live and available here.

In development for 'several months,' the service initially will be integrated with Google's Gmail e-mail service, according to Carl Sjogereen, a Google product manager. (Go here to read what Harry McCracken, PC World's editor in chief, thinks of the new service.)
Bloggers have been speculating about Google's possible entry into the calendar space for more than a year, and some believe that the search engine giant's involvement could spur a flurry of Web calendar development.
'I sure as hell hope they do it,' wrote Yahoo engineer Jeremy Zawodny in a February blog posting last year. 'There's been so little innovation in the world of on-line calendars these last few years. Perhaps Google getting into the act would finally change that.' "

Thursday Thirteen

The last thirteen things I listened to:

1. Carl Cox MegaMix
2. Time is on my side - Rolling stones
3. Play with Fire - Rolling Stones
4. Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
5. Transitions with John Digweed - John Digweed Podcast
6. Velvet - Dj Tandu
7. Fiji - Atlantis
8. Point Zero - Matt Darey
9. Mental Hopscotch - Missing Persons
10. Today - smashing pumpkins
11. Sleeping Beauty - A Perfect Circle
12. Go - Andy Hunter
13. A.D.I.D.A.S. - Korn

Ukrainian Vodka Giant Enters Thriving U.S. Market

Advertising Age: "Ukrainian vodka giant Soyuz-Victan is planning a $10 million marketing push to bolster its entry into seven major U.S. markets this August.

Soyuz-Victan is positioning its SV Supreme grand against Grey Goose and Chopin in the U.S.



U.S. is top priority
S-V, the world's No. 3 vodka producer, is positioning its SV Supreme brand to compete with the likes of Grey Goose and Chopin in the still-hot super-premium vodka sector. The marketer is also planning to expand into Asia and Western Europe, but the thriving market for high-end vodkas here makes the U.S. its top priority, according to U.S. Sales Manager Mark McKethan. "

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Alleged NASA hacker to hear fate next month

CNET News.com: "A British former systems administrator who faces extradition to the U.S. if convicted of hacking American military computers will learn his fate next month.
Gary McKinnon appeared in court in London on Wednesday, in the latest stage in a protracted legal process. His defense has argued that he should not be extradited, as he could be tried under the tough antiterrorism laws in the U.S., sent to Guantanamo Bay and imprisoned for up to 60 years.
On Wednesday, the prosecution produced an unsigned note from the U.S. Embassy, which they claimed was a guarantee that McKinnon would not be tried under Military Order No. 1, which allows suspected terrorists to be tried under military law.
However, the defense argued that the note was not signed and therefore not binding. The defense called Clive Stafford-Smith, a U.S. lawyer who has defended Guantanamo Bay inmates, as a witness. Stafford-Smith argued that the note would not prevent McKinnon from being treated as a terrorist.
'(U.S. President Bush) has a very strong view that he has legislative authority that is not trammeled by the legislature,' Stafford-Smith said. "

Microsoft reveals answer to Google Scholar

CNET News.com: "Microsoft has released an English-language beta version of Windows Live Academic Search, a service for searching academic journals.
The release is available in Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as in the United States, and is positioned as an alternative to Google Scholar or SciFinder Scholar.
Academic Search indexes library-subscribed content and supports OpenURL, the library standard currently used for linking to subscription-based content. In order for Academic Search to work, libraries or research facilities must provide Microsoft with information on their OpenURL link resolver, a vendor that creates and manages the customized links to content. Academic search can then provide the researcher with direct access links to the full text materials, based on their institutions' subscriptions.
The expected sorting and citation-compiling features common to academic-journal searching are included. Researchers can control the amount of immediate information that comes up in search results in a variety of ways. Search results link directly to full articles from the publisher, if the user is researching from an institution that subscribes to that publishers' content. "

Google patent points to voice search

CNET News.com: "A recently published patent provides further evidence that Google is developing a voice-activated search engine.
Patent No. 7027987, of which Google is the assignee, concerns 'a voice interface for search engines. Through the use of a language model, phonetic dictionary and acoustic models, a server generates an n-best hypothesis list or word graph.'
Though the patent was published Tuesday, the application was originally filed in February 2001, indicating that Google has had the project in the works for some time.
A demo of something called Google Voice Search has been up on Google Labs, Google's pre-beta-test site, for well over a year.
Craig Silverstein, the director of technology at Google, said in a 2004 interview, that the company envisioned voice interface to aid in everything from driving directions to finding groceries in a supermarket. "

Webby Awards hit ripe old age of 10

CNET News.com: "Nominees for the 10th annual Webby Awards were announced Tuesday, and the list of potential honorees reads like a who's who of well-known Web properties.
The awards--which have seen the Internet rise, fall and rise again with the birth of Web 2.0--will be presented June 12 at a ceremony in New York City hosted by comedian Rob Corddry of 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.' Winners will be officially revealed May 9.
Awards will be granted in 65 categories, including activism, banking and bill paying, celebrity/fan, humor, personal Web site, science and more.
'Whether you call it 'Web 2.0' or nothing at all, this year's nominees reflect how consumers are taking the lead and reshaping the Web to make it even more vital, useful and meaningful,' said Webby Awards Executive Director David-Michel Davies. "

- NOTE: Be sure and check out the WebAward - a bit more of a serious competition and less of a popularity contest.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The MySpace Economy

Wired News: "Tens of millions of people show up regularly at MySpace, News Corp.'s suddenly popular virtual hangout. That's good news for News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, who raised eyebrows by shelling out $580 million for the website last summer. But it's also an opportunity for ambitious entrepreneurs who have figured out how to make money by catering to the site's hordes of visitors.
Like mega-sites eBay and Google before it, MySpace is creating its own economic ecosystem, populated by small businesses that do everything from helping users decorate their profiles to creating tools that let advertisers target MySpace users.
It's unlikely, though, that the MySpace spinoffs approach a fraction of the revenue News Corp. is generating from the site itself. Even though some mainstream advertisers have expressed reservations about participating in MySpace's wild, just-about-anything-goes atmosphere, plenty are willing to get in front of the site's users, who have made it the second-most trafficked site on the internet, according to ComScore Networks. Analyst Richard Greenfield of Pali Research estimates that News Corp. sells $13 million in ad revenue each month."

Blogosphere suffers spam explosion

CNET News.com: "Boing Boing would allow its readers to leave comments and engage in a discussion on the wildly popular blog, if it weren't for spam.
The editors of the technology and pop culture blog took down the comment option about two years ago. Back then, they wanted to put an end to abusive comments, personal attacks on the Boing Boing crew and some spam. Today, their reason for not bringing it back is simpler: an explosion in junk posts on blogs. "

MySpace reaching out to parents

CNET News.com: "The media frenzy around MySpace.com has struck a nerve with parents fretting about what their kids are doing online.
Now the social networking site, along with other Net companies and child advocate groups, is trying to calm those parents about what their kids are doing online and what tools they have to deal with it.
On Tuesday, MySpace and other Fox-owned interactive media properties are expected to announce the hiring of a chief security officer, Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor who specialized in child exploitation cases. He will handle all education, safety, privacy and law enforcement programs for MySpace and other Fox properties.
MySpace has also hired more employees to handle security and customer care--roughly 100 people, or one-third of its workforce, scout out inappropriate content or underage members.
'Lots and lots of parents want their kids' profiles down,' said Parry Aftab, executive director of WiredSafety.org, a nonprofit organization that provides safety and health information. Aftab has worked for years with MySpace and other social networks to design safety guidelines. 'But we all need to take a breath and fashion solutions to address the real problem, which is how much information kids are putting online and who are they communicating with online.'"

McAfee unafraid of Microsoft security push

CNET News.com: "In June, Microsoft is expected to launch Windows OneCare Live, which is the company's long-anticipated entry into the consumer antivirus space. The company plans to charge $49.95 a year to shield up to three PCs against viruses, spyware and other cyberthreats.
However, although Microsoft's late entry into the security application market does pose a threat to McAfee's business, company president Kevin Weiss told ZDNet Australia last week that security requires dedication and specialization.
'Security is hard--we have been doing this for 15 years. We have over 10 patents that are focused right at security. We think we have a pretty significant lead in what we are doing. Security is not something you do part-time,' Weiss said."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room

Wired News: "AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.
On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly explain how the wiretapping system works.
According to a statement released by Klein's attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T's #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.
'I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room,' Klein wrote. 'The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.'
Klein's job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being inst"

Google exploring new search technique

CNET News.com: "Google has launched a new search project with an Australian university student, designed to let people view more information per search result without having to click open every link.
Ori Allon, a doctoral student at the University of South Wales, was recently hired by Google to continue developing his Orion search engine, according to a university representative.
'Ori is an employee of Google, but this is still a university project,' the representative noted, adding that Allon works out of the company's California office. "

Friday, April 07, 2006

Discovery comes to Google Earth

CNET News.com: "Google Earth, the free software that allows users to customize three-dimensional satellite maps, will now offer Discovery Communications content regarding history, science and culture on popular and historic destinations. When Google Earth users now click on an historic or culturally significant map point, a Discovery window will pop up, offering links to both videos and encyclopedic content.


The rollout will begin with 10 U.S. landmarks. In the coming months, 50 more destinations around the world will be added. By the end of 2006, Discovery Communications and Google plan to include video and encyclopedic content from Discovery Atlas, a high-definition series focusing on more than 30 countries. The new service will be offered on the free version of Google Earth as well as on the premium-pay GPS versions of the Google service."

Europe's .eu domain available

CNET News.com: "The .eu domain is now open to anyone within the European Union who wants to register a Web address. It is available on a first-come, first-served basis from more than 1,000 accredited registrars.
Trademark holders and public bodies have been able to register their .eu domains since December in a 'sunrise' period. So far .eu registrar Eurid has received more than 300,000 applications for addresses with the domain. "

Another security hole found in IE

CNET News.com: "An unpatched vulnerability in Internet Explorer could aid fraudsters in pulling off phishing scams, experts have warned.
The error could be exploited to fake the address bar in a browser window, security monitoring company Secunia said in an advisory published on Tuesday. This tactic could be used in phishing scams that attempt to trick people into believing they are on a legitimate site, when in fact they are viewing a fraudulent Web page.
Phishing is a prevalent type of online scam that seeks to pilfer personal information from unsuspecting Internet users. The scams typically combine spam e-mail with fraudulent Web sites that appear to come from a trusted source, such as a credit card company or a bank.
The flaw exists because of an error in the way the Microsoft Web browser loads Web pages and Macromedia Flash animations, according to Secunia. The company rates the issue 'moderately critical' and has created a special Web page where users can test their Web browser to see if they are affected. "

Thursday, April 06, 2006

'ELLE GIRL' SHUTS PRINT EDITION, MOVES TO WEB ONLY

NEW YORK (AdAge.com): " -- After five years of publication, Elle Girl magazine is being shut down by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and its president-CEO, Jack Kliger. But the brand will continue as a Web publication with mobile content and other platforms that Hachette feels are better suited to finding the title's target readers.

Redefining the strategy
"After running this magazine for the past five years and continually doing research on the teen market, Jack is totally redefining the strategy," said Anne L. Janas, a Hachette spokeswoman. "The print magazine is closing down but there will be increased investment online and in wireless. He believes that's where he needs to direct the primary investment of the company."

MSN suffers outage.

CNET News.com: "MSN's search engine crashed on Thursday afternoon.
A message posted on the site read: 'The service is currently unavailable. Our team is working to restore service as quickly as possible. Please try your request again later.'
The reason for the outage was not disclosed. Calls to Microsoft, the site's parent company, were not immediately returned.
MSN is vying to cut into the massive lead in the search engine category held by Google. "

Republicans defeat Net neutrality proposal

CNET News.com: "A Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday defeated a proposal that would have levied extensive regulations on broadband providers and forcibly prevented them from offering higher-speed video services to partners or affiliates.
By an 8-to-23 margin, the committee members rejected a Democratic-backed 'Net neutrality' amendment to a current piece of telecommunications legislation. The amendment had attracted support from companies including Amazon.com, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and their chief executives wrote a last-minute letter to the committee on Wednesday saying such a change to the legislation was 'critical.'
Before the vote, amendment sponsor Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, assailed his Republican colleagues. 'We're about to break with the entire history of the Internet,' Markey said. 'Everyone should understand that.' "

Monday, April 03, 2006

A USB tanner for pale geeks? | News.blog | CNET News.com

CNET News.com: "Just when you think it's safe to go back on the Web in search of cool new gadgets, you discover that April Fools' lasts longer than a day in some circles. I confess that I was excited to see a USB Desktop Tanning Center advertised on ThinkGeek on Monday. The device, a sunlamp that hooks on to your PC, purports to consist of two base units, attached to either side of your monitor, that bathe you in an ultraviolet glow as you toil away. "