Showing posts with label software. Show all posts
Showing posts with label software. Show all posts

Thursday, December 13, 2007

OpenSocial Alliance is here. Social Internet has changed.



It was just the end of October this year when we learned about another open standard alliance led by Google a move that was described as a "FaceBook killer". OpenSocial provides a common set of Application Interface (API) tools for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can now create rich interactive web applications, accessing data from other social networks, update feeds and create new mashed-up content.



Aiming for every social driven and user generated content website out there to implement the new standards, the OpenSocial alliance seek to change the way people are interacting with each other on the internet by removing some of the boundaries set by a chaosed freedom and commercial interests. Websites already implementing the new OpenSocial tools include highly popular websites such as MySpace, Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle and Orkut. Members of the alliance also include Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, XING and many others. See them all here or check on the video below for interviews with some of OpenSocuial early industry adapters.



Google’s own social network, Orkut, is of course the one that Interests them most but a-la Google's style this is used mainly to give (a limited sandbox for OpenSocial development) rather than take (users from other websites by closing their cross platform communications capabilities). Furthermore, unlike Facebook which uses a proprietary language for their widgets, once you chose developing your new widget with OpenSocial you are totally free to use the best stuff Internet has to offer nowadays including Flash, html and javascript, or in other words - Ajax.



Even though latest figures show the impact on FaceBook's application market is yet minor, the OpenSocial alliance is just one of those things we can't understand how they did not exist until they did and it seems that Google just changed the rules of the game once again. Social Internet has changed. Adding the numbers and including the vast member pool of MySpace - FaceBook's mightiest competitor and an avid OpenSocial integrator - we get a "completely different picture of the combined OpenSocial sites compared to Facebook". A swift look at the above chart posted about a month an a half ago by Bill Tancer, General Manager of Global Research at Hitwise, tells the whole story in short: FaceBook - you took the closed course and got knocked out by the open one. Just like your Microsoft partner.

http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/
http://opensocialapis.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Said no to Windows Vista? Watercolor: cool WinXP Theme

Watercolor: cool WinXP Theme

And while we are on the subject below, In case you are not excited by Windows Vista's CPU killing bells-and-whistle fireworks and still haven't made your way to Ubuntu, check on Watercolor by Moonwatcher, a cool 704 KB weight XP theme on customize.org for your poor "still running Windows" PCs. This theme still runs on quite a few workstations I know including my own and works seamlessly. With 478 downloads already - not bad for a theme submitted two and a half days ago - this may be a perfect solution for anyone with a sense of graphic taste that still wants to run Windows XP.

Download directly, or go to http://customize.org/xpthemes/55321

IE7: "A little over a year". Lots of CSS bugs. Still no bug tracking.

IE7: A little over a year. Lots of CSS bugs. Still no bug tracking.

Well, yes, it has been a little over a year since "they" released IE7 on Windows XP and for Windows Vista, so IE7 Group Program Manager Mr. Tony Chor, who is also an avid blogger, thought "it would be worthwhile to talk about where we are after the year." Why? because of "the positive impact IE7 has made" for Microsoft users, because "as you know" Microsoft "focused a lot on improving security in IE7" making "IE 7 the safest Microsoft browser released to date" and because - yes - "IE7 had both fewer fixed and unfixed vulnerabilities in the first year than the other browsers" they compared with.

Also, says Mr. Chor, "according to internal Microsoft research based on data from Visual Sciences Corporation "over 300 million users are experiencing the web with IE7" making it "the second most popular browser after IE6." I'll save you the rest of the exciting new features and reasons specified by Chor. You can read them all here if you like. The point here is that many angry folks seem to have been waiting a long time for such an opportunity to express their real feelings towards IE7 as well as Microsoft's approach for how to handle their interaction with Internet developer community. I quoted up some of the best onces for you as there are just too many of them. Enjoy.

"Sorry, I can't get past the all-too-frequent IE 7 crashing or hanging at seemingly random times to appreciate anything you just posted." (Internet Explorer has stopped working)

"...It would be sad for IE to fade away in its own delusions of grandeur and support its own misguided standards of how the web should be. Good luck and hope to hear about IE's future developments so I can properly hack my sites to work with its arcane developments." (Joshua)

"From the horrifically god-awful (IE6) to the merely depressingly buggy, nonstandard, and incomplete (IE7)... congratulations!" (Joseph E. Davis)

"... 1 year, still no bug tracking 1 year, still no updates on IE8 features 1 year, still no updates on IE8 bug fixes 1 year, still no ETA on IE8 release 1 year, still no ETA on IE8 Beta release(s) 1 year, still no ETA on IE8 Alpha release(s)" (Sam)

"...Every single day, web authors of all experience, from amateurs to experts/gurus, experience difficulties (from minor to major) with bugs of all kinds in IE 7. When is Microsoft going to finally fix all these proven and testcase-ed bugs?" (Gérard Talbot)

"IE Team called out for biased numbers" (Concerned User)

"I wonder when will you release IE without click to activate..." (n-blue)

"... Let's see... six years for IE7, so you guys are on track to have IE8 by what, 2012? Your problem is you think in terms of years. Your problem is that your company sees the web as a competing platform. Do us all a favor and stop making IE altogether." (Paul)

A few words about my own view. After spending four years with Conceptis development team putting up a totally dynamic yet 100% standard compatible application server there are simply no words to describe how horrible is the fact IE is a closed undocumented software ignoring the fact Internet is not owned by Microsoft:

We had a professional top-gun graphic designer added to our payroll to have the most spectacular GUI ever seen. At least a year was spent on coming up with the basic layout look and language. Aiming to support everyone's Internet experience we took a huge effort to have all of it implemented using 100% W3C standards. We came to a point where IE is supported on the site and design look almost as it should - there is not a single line of code in this project containing the bad behavior of mixing graphic design with code and all graphic instructions are done exclusively via CSS, just as they should be "by the book".

In short, we did our part. Yet, most of the time we spent on CSS development went to solving IE6 particular bugs. There were times when we were certain that eventually we'll bump into all of them, a frightening thought in light of the fact there are hundreds. Now with IE7 around it looks like things are not going to be very different. It looks like we will probably just have to add a bunch of IE7 dedicated hacks to our IE CSS override pool. As explained by a fellow named Gérard Talbot the IE development team still has to fix -

"at the very least 700 bugs, incorrect implementations (all testcase-ed, all demontrable, reproducible) happening in HTML 4, CSS 2.1, DOM 2 interfaces and then implement more or less 500 properties, attributes, methods specified in official W3C Technical Recommendations, W3C web standards (HTML 4, CSS 2.1, DOM 2 interfaces, DOM 2 Core, DOM 3 Core)."

How lovely...

There is one particular comment on this thread which I thought should be brought in full as it pretty much sums up my personal feelings towards the subject discussed. Here it is, exactly as posted on the official IE blog by owner of a web development company Adam Tichy on Thursday, December 06, 2007:

"I'm a web developer, not a literary scholar, therefore I cannot quite find proper words to describe my total disgust with IE. I honestly can't wait long enough for that horrible thing to just crawl into the depths of forgotten projects and die.

"Most of my customers provide consumer or business internet services and they rightfully insist that the web applications work properly in all major browsers. Since MS packages this crap together with the OS it is a small wonder that in whatever diminishing numbers, the IE is still out there in force. It makes my life a living hell! I have to either seriously compromise the design and functionality or essentially build several variants of the sites just to make it work for the ignorant IE6/7 crowd.

And I'm not so sure the smaller number of support calls is something to boast. Judging from the stats on my sites, more and more people access them via the "other" browser(s). If this trend continues (and hopefully it will) you will be receiving even less support calls in the future. 300 million my foot."

[Above illustrative image courtesy of Alex who bumped up a confirmed bug by Microsoft. Confirmed since medieval ages of IE 5.]

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Jay is Games: Casual, Flash and Puzzle game reviews

It was just a while ago when I mentioned how there are many signs that logic puzzles are making their way to mainstream media. It was just until about three years ago that language independent logic puzzles where still an offstream hobby of a few westerns but today they seem to be a legitimate segment within the growing casual game industry. Take Jay is Games for example. Other than running their own IRC server at irc.jayisgames.com and channel at #casualgameplay (which show these folks are extremely cool) this website is also ranked within Technorati's top 5000 destinations and is definitely one of the best casual game reviewers on the web. It might not be the NY Times, but if it's the latest Flash and or casual game review you are after, user friendly walkthroughs, room escapes, point and clicks or anything else falling into the wide definition of casual games, this site has it.



With tones of puzzle game references and a respected pool of logic puzzle oriented material this bloglike function-rich website is good not just in keeping a hand on the pulse of casual gaming industry as well as very few others do, but in smartly supporting their way up to the crowded green area of public attention. A brilliant "add this game to your website" feature allowing easy embedding action of every game reviewed on the site is just one - actually my favorite - example.



This morning I was informed by an avid Conceptis member about this kindly phrased reference to Conceptis on jayisgames' recent link dump post. Personally, I already knew there are very few websites out there doing both printable and online number and picture logic puzzles for free as we do them in conceptispuzzles.com but having this said by JohnB of jayisgames.com is a very nice achievement for anyone in the industry. Much obliged JohnB.

http://jayisgames.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Redmond, fasten your seat belts: Firefox 3 Beta 1 now available for download



The Microsoft IE7 folks at Redmond must be fastening their seat belts at these moments, getting ready for their largest challenge ever as the world's most superior Internet communication software has just been released as a public Beta. Firefox 3 Beta 1, AKLA 3.0b1 is now available for download with 3 operating systems and more than 20 languages already in supported list.

The rumors about Firefox 3 have been with us for a long time and a lot has been written about the third version. This Internet tool is not going to be just another crappy recycled version of the previous engine with additional bells and whistles and a few "new exciting features" stolen from others and implemented badly (have you seen the exciting new tabs on IE7? how exciting). Firefox 3 is developed as a completely new software, with much of its core re-designed from scratch. The Beta 1 is the ninth developer milestone and includes many new core functionality features and changes to the platform scheduled for Firefox 3 (see 3.0b1 release notes).

New Firefox 3 Beta 1 features:

  • Improved security features such as: Better presentation of website identity and security, malware protection, stricter SSL error pages, anti-virus integration in the download manager, and version checking for insecure plugins.
  • Improved ease of use through: better password management, easier add-on installation, new download manager with resumable downloading, full page zoom, animated tab strip, and better integration with Windows Vista and Mac OS X.
  • Richer personalization through: one-click bookmarking, smart search bookmark folders, direct typing in location bar searches your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, ability to register web applications as protocol handlers, and better customization of download actions for file types.
  • Improved platform features such as: new graphics and font rendering architecture, major changes to the HTML rendering engine to provide better CSS, float-, and table layout support, native web page form controls, colour profile management, and offline application support.
  • Performance improvements such as: better data reliability for user profiles, architectural improvements to speed up page rendering, over 300 memory leak fixes, and a new XPCOM cycle collector to reduce entire classes of leaks.

Important notes:

The Mozilla folks say they do not recommend that anyone other than developers and testers download the Firefox 3 Beta 1 milestone release as it is intended for testing purposes only. In addition, If you blog this new further (you should!) please do not link directly to the download site but to this Firefox 3 Beta 1 milestone announcement so that everyone will know what this milestone is, what they should expect, and who should be downloading to participate in testing at this stage of development.


http://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox3

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shendoku: Shen Kua style sociable Sudoku project



Shendoku is a "Sociable Sudoku" multi player game of "skills, bluffing and cunning". The concept for the game originated with an educational project researching the Chinese mathematician, astronomer and inventor Shen Kua and the play reminds the famous Battleships game. According to shendoku.com "the development team decided to put themselves in the shoes of Shen Kua, an avid game player, and try to extrapolate what he would make of SuDoku."

Shendoku (all right, SHENDOKU™...) is not just an online project but also consisting with some books, some in the production stage and with the first book: SHENDOKU™ (ISBN 978-1-84728-627-7), already available to order from bookshops or at Amazon. The folks from shendoku .com says more books will be made available first through the SHENDOKU™ shop which is not working for some reason at the moment.

Rorohiko (all right, Rorohiko™...) a company specializing in Adobe InDesign® tools are the developers behind the Shendoku™ single player game which apparently use InDesign generators and some "other programs". Oh yes, Shendoku is still a Beta game and thus only available for evaluation and feedback on the Rorohiko website. It is claimed to be offered soon on Gideon Grinspan's WebSudoku where you will also be able to purchase eBook games. so in the meantime you can download this free eBook with instructions and a free sample.

www.shendoku.com
Official Shendoku blog at shendoku.blogspot.com

Monday, November 5, 2007

Apple, Intel, IBM, the big M and Babu: Wheels are in motion





Remember Jerry Seinfeld's The Visa sketch where he promises Babu Bhatt (played by Israeli actor Brian George) that "Wheels are in motion" even though the bottom line is still Babu being kept in Jail?

"Jerry: Babu, I'm gonna fix everything! I have a lawyer who knows someone in
the Immigration Department, they're gonna straighten the whole thing out, the
wheels are in motion, things are happening even as we speak!"


Well, wheels look like they are in motion also in the top tier IT industry as it was recently published (thanks Lior!) that Apple's market capitalization is at nearly $162 billion. This means Apple is surpassing Intel, valued at $155 billion and IBM at $157 billion. Thus, Apple is rapidly closing in on Google ($200 billion), but still has a long way to go before it can get closer to the "always there" Microsoft, valued at $290 billion.

The above Apple Bootcamp desktop backgrounds for those of you who like their Mac to also be a PC or visa versa can be obtained here. I told you wheels are in motion. Things are happening even as we speak!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

gPhone goes for advertising and Linux



Continuing months of speculations, rumors and global buzz, more details of Google's secret plan to dominate the mobile phone industry have been revealed by The New York Times yesterday. While Microsoft charges mobile phone companies a licensing fee for their Windows Mobile system, Google goes for advertising. If this is true, and the NY Times is not usually easy to manipulate, this might indeed be the large scale Google plan to rival Microsoft's Windows Mobile and redefine the mobile media world.

The most significant aspect of gPhone is that, as opposed to Apple's iPhone and countless of other products using the currently in lead mobile operating systems, it not likely to be another "what a bummer" proprietary, closed environment, mobile device. Even though nothing has been official confirmed by Google it is pretty clear that Google has developed their mobile OS based on Linux kernel for the operating system. As of last talks with folks at Google, the gPhone's user interface is still being finalized and the phone reference design will be open source, using the Apache license. This reference design will be an unlocked, neutral environment.

Dozens of references

Earlier this summer reports from India stated Google is "currently in talks with India's first and third largest telecommunications companies, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar about the Google phone." It is also believed to be in talks with some Indian companies to offer "data, content and platforms including Instant Messaging (IM) and Search functions".

The buzz around gPhone gains interest for its own making some of us wonder how much of it is planned by Google and how much is out of control. Dozens of references to the gPhone project in both online and traditional media channels collected by Search expert Danny Sullivan of SearchEnglineLand are just a very partial list. Google offer 2,820,000 results for gPhone at their major search and 193 entries in the past month within their news search section. By now Google has refused to confirm any plans for the GPhone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

PeerBox : File sharing goes mobile



The first P2P (Peer-to-Peer) generation was based on a client/server principle and a centralized file list. Napster is the most familiar example and one of the first tools any of us ever used for file sharing. But in a way Napster was also the trigger to the second P2P-Generation which was characterized mainly by decentralization.

The Decentralized file sharing generation came as a direct result of what eventually happened to Napster after encountering serious legal troubles. Yet, the new generation model has been adopted by both leading open source projects such as Gnutella and eMule/Kademlia and by commercial services such as Kazaa.

Third file sharing generation?

Yesterday I have been informed that might be taking its next step towards another major evolution change: Social network and mobile Peer-to-Peer file sharing application PeerBox by Nareos, have just announced their beta version platform peerboxm.com went through the 100K unique user line in more than 170 countries overall.


PeerBox Home screen

Who knows? Maybe some day, in retrospective view, this may be remembered as a milestone in the way to the third file sharing generation, when people have started sharing files using their mobile phones. Does anyone doubt that the day is not far when people would get freaked out when their mobile P2P will stop functioning one day because of lack of supernodes as happened to millions of Skype users just recently?

Tied to a computer

Claiming to be the first true Peer-to-Peer service for mobile phones, PeerBox Mobile is a peer-to-peer file sharing service for your mobile phone. With PeerBox, you can share your videos and pictures with others network members directly from your mobile phone. You can also send messages to friends and watch their videos and pictures. Unfortunately at the moment PeerBox only supports phones manufactured by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Panasonic, Samsung and Lenovo.


PeerBox My Downloads screen

According to Alexander Lazovsky, CEO of Nareos, successful viral marketing triggered quick word of mouth distribution and high adoption rate of PeerBox, proving that "people are looking for a way to socialize, create and share content without being tied to a computer.”

According to Wikipedia, file sharing is "the practice of making files available for other users to download over the Internet and smaller networks" but also say "most people who engage in file sharing are also downloading files that other users share. Usually these two activities are linked together."

www.peerboxm.com
www.nareos.com

Monday, September 3, 2007

Whitesmoke: your English just got smarter



As blogging becomes more popular so does this cool software tool from Whitesmoke Inc. - a small start-up founded in Israeli about four and a half years ago. Enabling plain English sentences look nicer and more professional the company recently launched a new feature to its software allowing enhancement of plain English text paragraph to a "smarter looking" one by a single click.

Using patented Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, WhiteSmoke suggest context-based synonyms from their database and synonym dictionary. The software checks and corrects English grammar and spelling and enhance it with proper punctuation. Claiming to do that for all kinds of writing including business writing, legal, medical and creative whitesmoke also runs with both IE and Firefox as well as with Mac OSX.

The company has already raised "a few" million Dollars from the venture capital fund Evolution, ICQ and Dotomi co-founder and Dotomi CEO Yair Goldfinger and Finjan founder and Yoggie CEO Shlomo Tubul. Good luck guys. Commercial computerized language processing needs to get smarter since long time ago.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Google Analytics in data blackout

I have been testing the Google Analytics service since the launching of the new version in May this year and was quite impressed:

The option to preform a drill down search into particular data segments (similar as its done with Sawmill), the elegant Flash user interface, the easy installation and of course - another one of Google's great services provided for free.

Since about two days ago, however, it started to look like my blog has been banned from the Internet by some cyber punk police as there are almost no visitors there anymore (there was one to be exact but it just made me more suspicious), not at least according to Google Analytics. Could it be that the great Google is not doing its job properly??! naaa... this is Google, not Skype.

Searching in Google didn't do any help and even going over the official Google Analytics blog only brought up some old report from almost one month ago about some problem they used to have on Monday, July 30, 2007. Its not about the problem I though I might be having here but It drove me to search the blogospher for some more updated stuff.

Well, according to FeedComputer, the Google Analytics service completely stopped delivering data to users a week ago and, in accordance to what I read, this glitch is another one in "a series of recent performance and availability problems affecting this popular Web site traffic-monitoring service". Also according to FeedComputer, "the latest problem remains unsolved and is apparently affecting all Google Analytics accounts, according to a message posted Monday afternoon by a Google employee in the official Google Analytics blog".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Skype: Microsoft patch triggered outage



Last Tuesday, August 14, the great Redmond giant released another one of its patch batches claiming to fix (at least) 14 operating system security holes in computers powered by different versions of Windows and MS Office. The updates were pushed to millions of MS users all over the world using the Microsoft's "Automatic Updates" system.

Windows XP users were pushed with at least six updates from this patch batch, and more if they have any version of Microsoft Office installed. Office 2000 users had to scan the Office Update site for additional fixes not offered via Microsoft Updates.

On Thursday, 16th August 2007, the whole world was amazed to watch how Skype's legendary peer-to-peer network - used by millions for VOIP communications - had actually crashed and became unstable for about 48 hours. According to an official announcement released yesterday by Skype the crash was triggered by a massive global restart of Microsoft based computers across the globe within a very short timeframe. Also according to Skype:

The high number of restarts affected Skype’s network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact.

Normally Skype’s peer-to-peer network has an inbuilt ability to self-heal, however, this event revealed a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm which prevented the self-healing function from working quickly. Regrettably, as a result of this disruption, Skype was unavailable to the majority of its users for approximately two days.

According to Washington Post blog a Microsoft spokesperson claimed the August 14 patch release - fixing at least 14 vulnerabilities in its software - was "hardly out of the ordinary" and that "Windows Update is a routine service Microsoft provides to its users to receive software updates, including last Tuesday's security updates, which were not unique," the spokesperson said. "As indicated in Skype's blog, their specific disruption was caused by a bug in their software."

Did you get that? fixing at least 14 vulnerabilities in a software is "hardly out of the ordinary". There are many common jokes about the need to restart Windows based systems but I think this last one is certainly one of the best amongst them. We'll still have to live and see how funny this joke is for Skype / eBay, their engineers and their managers.

By now there are 435 blog responses to Skype message on Technorati.

 skype

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Maze complexity and aesthetics: deep problems in computer graphics



Craig S. Kaplan is an Assistant Professor at the Computer Graphics Lab, The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Studying the use of computer graphics in the creation of geometric art and ornament, Professor Kaplan's interests extend into non-photorealistic rendering.

I happen know at least two high-end software engineers fighting similar research area and aware of some of its complexities and difficulties. Yet, Professor Kaplan's Maze Design is certainly one of the most spectacular amazing presentations of discrete geometry and non-photorealistic rendering techniques I have ever seen.

Creating computer generated mazes using human designer input, Professor Kaplan and his PhD student, Jie Xu, were interested in two complementary questions with respect to maze design: Complexity and Aesthetics. According to Kaplan computer-based maze design requires a mix of techniques from discrete geometry and non-photorealistic rendering. Thus, the two questions of complexity and aesthetics in mazes both represent profound problems in computer graphics.

Kaplan and Jie Xu were trying to answer the following questions:

Complexity

"What makes a maze difficult to solve? The more we consider this question, the more elusive it becomes. It's certainly possible to begin defining mathematical measures of a maze's complexity, but complexity must depend on aspects of human perception as well. For example, the eye can easily become lost in a set of parallel passages. Complexity also depends on how the maze is to be solved. Are you looking down on the maze, solving it by eye? With a pencil? What if you're walking around inside the maze? And of course, complexity isn't necessarily what we want to measure. Ultimately we'd like to generate compelling puzzles, which may or may not have a high degree of complexity."

Aesthetics

"How do we construct attractive mazes, particularly mazes that resemble real-world scenes? Here, maze design interacts with problems in non-photorealistic rendering. There are many great projects for producing line drawings from images. Our goal is similar, except that our lines must also contrive to have the geometry of a maze. This additional constraint affects how we think about creating a line drawing in the first place."

Also according to their page, mazes can be used to represent images in two different ways with the most obvious using non-photorealistic line art as in the fantastic examples by Christopher Berg and the less obvious as in the "great new Maze-a-pix puzzles being produced by Conceptis Puzzles".

Following are a few of those creations linked to their corresponding HUGE originals. Click on any of them to download a PDF or PNG of the maze from their website for solving on paper. If you are REALLY interested with the subject you can also download the full Vortex Maze Construction paper by Jie Xu and Craig S. Kaplan (be patient. it's a big one and might take time to download).

Note: All images are courtesy of and copyrighted (2005) by Jie Xu and Craig S. Kaplan. you are free to use any of the images for personal and non-commercial purposes but please check with the owners about any other uses.








Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Will dynamic ad push free mobile gaming?



Can dynamic advertising and marketing push make mobile gaming free and by that reaching all of us? TheMarker, a leading financial Israeli newspaper, reports today that the Israeli start-up company innerActive has just completed a capital raise of $1.5M from "private investors". It was just two weeks ago, on July 12, 2007, that Israel's largest mobile operator Cellcom has announced the completion of its first ad-funded mobile games service powered by new technology from innerActive.

The new Cellcom service showed results of 44% Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and 19% Acquisition Rate for Mobile Advertising Campaigns, indicating a breakthrough in marketing via mobile phones. I guess this has pretty much done the job with those "private investors".

As I wasn't participating this pilot (even though I am a Cellcom user!) here is how it actually worked according to an official press release from innerActive:

As integrate to Cellcom’s system innerActive's solution "dynamically inserted ads and marketing content for product placement within the games". Yet, as opposed to traditional mas-media advertising models innerActive's mobile in-game ads were "targeted and segmented in real-time according to each user’s profile, behavior and responses". In addition, "mobile coupons and other incentives were offered for conversion and cross-over to other media channels like websites and point of sells".

In marketing terms the new model used in the trial has proved to be effective and feasible to all the players. On average, according to the results of this trial, a trend of 10 times higher game downloads per user was observed, comparing to the pre-pilot download results. Adi Cohen, VP Marketing of Cellcom said:

"We succeeded to promote thousands of new users, that are not heavy gamers, to consumed and enjoyed games. The advertising-marketing stimulus trial confirms its effectiveness to all parties that took part in this project. This mobile advertising is working and shows far-reaching consequences for the mobile industry.”

Monday, July 9, 2007

21Publish: become a blog host

Blogging and social networking are major issues nowadays, keeping the lights on in many business development departments, marketing strategy rooms and non-profit organization headquarters. They are more or less what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been in the last three years or so. For that reason, 21Publish is a very interesting Web2.0 venture.

While most other blog services mainly offer blogs for individuals not for groups, with 21Publish you can become a blog host yourself. This platform will aggregates the individual and independent blogs of any number of people with a shared interest: any club, college, media company or enterprise can use the system and offer blogs to their members, users, students or friends. I am not sure how many more of those there are out there but this one is certainly an interesting service.

21Publish is specifically designed to be used as a community publishing network. Administration panel allows central control over the network. The look of the Blog Community can reflect its own brand, hand on its own domain and be using its own design. It can work as a fully functional, stand-alone website or be seamlessly integrated into an existing one. Here are a few featured communities linked from the 21Publish website:
Key features

A list of handy features (see all of them here) gives users the means to customize their blog communities according to their needs in terms of community features, design, user functions, and privacy. Key features are:
  • BlogPortal as community homepage
  • Central console to manage multi-user platform
  • Suitable for thousands of users with independent yet inter-connected blogs
  • Multiple Options for user registration process
  • RSS Integration of existing Blogs operated through other providers
  • Runs under yourdomain.com or fully integrated into your existing site
  • Selection of templates or your own CSS editing
Hosted application

For the good and the bad of it, 21Publish is a hosted application. It means there's no software to install, no maintenance and no updates required at your end. You can set up and run your own personal BlogPortal and invite others to join in. But this also means you don't have 100% control over the system. For a group of good friends sharing a common interest this would not be of any problem. For some companies and chief technical officers I know it probably would.

21Publish is a classic 2-layer system: the first layer is your BlogPortal or community homepage where users can register and login, find new blog entries or community news. The second layer consists of all the individual blogs of community members.

Price?

Free for small communities of up to 100 users (blogs) providing 2MB of webspace for each, 21Publish's business model also allows on-demand upgrade options and enterprise solutions with pricing depends on three factors:
  • The number of users (bloggers)
  • How much web space allowed for each user
  • Allowing 21Publish to be the ones who place advertising on user blogs or not
Using your own advertising through banners or Google AdSense, as well as using your own domain (domain mapping) is only available in paid BlogPortals. There is an online price calculator on the company's website.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Microsoft(R) Firefox | We've Made it Better

Just stumbled this "amazingly going all the way to make its point" site with the strange eyecatching domain name of msfirefox.com and could not believe my own eyes. I found myself clicking my way from the About page to the Download looking to see what is going actually on here. Then I had to keep my mouth shut with my palm to avoid my laughter moos from waking everyone at the house. Following is some text from this site about page. Don't miss the rest of it! There is even a Press section...

We provide tools for developing Microsoft standards content

  • Microsoft offers the best implementation of its web standards. Period.
  • By acquiring competitors left, right and center, we offer to to roll a plethora of core technologies into one - removing unnecessary compatibility issues and risks.
  • We utilize scare tactics such as filing lawsuits against companies who we deem as second rate or are providing low-key products to our more deserving users. Such techniques has effectively stabilized core security kernels within technologies such as Microsoft Windows.
We are a slightly open source community

  • We continue to be a leader and partner in slightly open source development, providing low cost*and alternative choices for technology. With millions of users already, we are one of the world's largest distributors of slightly open source software.
  • Our software development processes all take place in the public eye*. We have nothing to hide.
* Official US Civil Antitrust Complaint required

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Internet Relay Chat: from chatscan past to iPhone future

Just as http, ftp and other commonly known and used Internet protocols IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is an Internet protocol allowing people to virtually meat each other in theme based channels and exchange text and other type of messages in a synchronized manner. This form of synchronous (real-time) conferencing is mainly designed for group (many-to-many) communication in discussion forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication and data transfers via private message. See Wikipedia for more.

In the late nineties I have found myself very busy researching the IRC network with my younger brother Lior and a very good friend named Moshe Carmeli. Within the frame of an ambitious project we were trying to promote, we took extreme efforts to convince local venture capital companies that IRC needs to and can be indexed in a real time manner to allow people identifying and accessing live conversations based on their personal interests. Our point was that being an open platform the IRC network host much more users than any other single commercial chat application. To prove this point we used special custom made tools and counted millions of chatters on the network. It was a fantastic experience as if we were discovering a new hidden continent, loaded with gold and oil.

A bit of a bitter taste

As the millennium turned, just a few months before the "Internet bobble" had blown up we got tipped about a project named chatscan by eNow which was being developed by some other group of former Israeli
entrepreneurs who practically have the exact same idea. The difference was that - as opposed to us - they had a working model and already got an amazing sum of money form a very respectable investment group so after almost three years and lots of ups and downs we decided to pull of. The adventure left us with a bit of a bitter taste but as we kind of made our point "Communiverse" was left behind and each of us moved forward to his own destiny.

I almost forgot about IRC for a few years now until this morning when i read this.
I have already heard that since the iPhone was launched people are on a crazy lookout for web applications to run on their new toy. Almost 10 years have passed since communiverse and chatscan, the Internet went a long way but there is still now way to find IRC chatrooms on a real time content based method. Yet, it was just yesterday when people have actually started logging in to IRC channels using their iPhone devices!

Gearlive.com, a popular tech blog, explains the process of how IRC channels can be accsed using iPhones with this short presentation. I bet if this would work IRC is about to take a huge step forward as millions of new users are about to join. Note that using the method you also need a Mac workstation.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dr. T. V. Raman's complete audio desktop

Have you ever tried using your Windows voice-to-text speech engine? If so I bet you got depressed as I did. I bet you went to sleep that day thinking how far we still are from those sci-fi movies showing people chatting with his home computers, normally having the voice of a hot sexy female. I bet you did.

Anyways, if the idea of having a complete voice interaction with your data fits well into your dreams, you might want to check out Emacspeak - a new technology dramatically changing how blind and visually impaired users around the world can interact with the personal computer and the Internet.

Conceived by Dr. T. V. Raman, (see picture from raman's Public Gallery on Picasa webalbums) who obtained his first guide-dog, Aster Labrador, from Guiding Eyes in January 1990 - Emacspeak is a speech interface that allows visually impaired users to interact independently and efficiently with the computer. Using "Audio formatting" - a technique pioneered by AsTeR - and full support for W3C's Aural CSS (ACSS) - Emacspeak produces rich aural presentations of electronic information. By blending different aspects of the Internet such as Web-surfing and messaging, Emacspeak speech-enables local and remote information via a consistent and well-integrated user interface.

A suite of task-oriented tools provides efficient speech-enabled access to the audio desktop and evolving semantic WWW. According to T. V. Raman, when combined with Linux running on low-cost PC hardware, Emacspeak/Linux provides a reliable, stable speech-friendly solution that opens up the Internet to visually impaired users around the world.

See the online manual, productivity tips, speech-enabled applications list and the various online resources for Emacspeak locatable through Google for additional details.

T. V. Raman is one of the most well known computer scientists who came from India. According to Wikipedia, T. V. Raman has worked on speech interaction and markup technologies in the context of the World Wide Web at Digital's Cambridge Research Lab (CRL), Adobe Systems and IBM Research and he presently works at Google Research.

His research interests are primarily auditory user interfaces and structured electronic documents. His PhD thesis entitled Audio System For Technical Readings was awarded the ACM Dissertation Award in 1994. Raman went on to apply the ideas on audio formatting introduced in AsTeR to the more general domain of computer interfaces Emacspeak. On Monday, April 12, 1999, Emacspeak became part of the Smithsonian's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Way to go Dr. Raman. I wish I was half as brave, strong and innovative as you are. I am also going to try installing your amazing system on the Linux machine I plan as version 2 of our HTPC. It's gonna take time, but I am going to give it a try.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CCCP: Combined Community Codec Pack

A few of my friends keep on asking me about where they can get a good free and easy to install package of video codecs so they can play the various types of digital video formats going on on the web nowadays.

Apart from having a somewhat "different than usual" yet charming graphic design The CCCP (Combined Community Codec Pack) is a DirectShow filter pack specifically built for playing anime but it actually contains most video codecs most users need. It has been assembled by some of the most knowledgeable people in online anime distribution, and one of the primary design goals is to play as much as possible with as little as possible. The CCCP attempts to be as unintrusive on your system as possible. I used it and I can say its true.

Installation Instructions
  1. Download the package for Windows users here or go to the homepage at http://cccp-project.net
  2. If you know for certain that you do not have any other codec packs currently installed Install the CCCP. Be sure the Reset all settings option (at the end of the installation) is checked. If you are interested in changing the default settings, read the FAQ's and other documentation below.
  3. Watch anime and be happy. Or if it still doesn't work, read the Troubleshooting Guide. THEN watch anime and be happy.
If you are unsure if you have other codec packs installed go to this page to read about a special software they offer for such purpose which identifys and helps you manage existing codecs (CCCP Insurgent, latest version from 2007-01-01).