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Mark Zuckerberg Celeb Wreck

Doing the SXSWi gig this week and picked-up the Zuckerberg keynote.  It’s not every day at a major conference you get to see a celeb wreck!  

The blogosphere is buzzing about the keynote where Zuckerberg was interviewed by BusinessWeek’s – Sarah Lacy. Being there 10 rows back made it painful.  News.com’s Daniel Terdiman has a good account of the keynote and how Lacy lost the Twittermania crowd.It was brutal and Lacy was heckled for nearly everything, but at first seemed to enjoy that she was becoming the story. Mistake number 1.

Lacy’s arrogance shined through as a FOM (friend of Mark), but will become an Internet classic for her condescending statement about how the crowd just didn’t “understand how hard it was to be a journalist“.In any case, it was ugly.

But on to some of the information.  Zuckerberg stated that Facebook now has more than 200K developers and the company just reached 500 employees.  Zuckerberg mentioned many, many, many times: “We’re building a platform to help people communicate”  yet questions from the audience about how the fundamental email system doesn’t serve us or work well went unanswered.   When ask about his “Fortune”, Zuckerberg stated the company is not focused on valuation.  “we just don’t think like that”.  He stated it was going to be the Google veteran Sheryl Sandberg new hire to help organize the company.  Overall the company is more concerned about reputation (privacy) than about just about building applications.  Zuckerberg stated that Facebook went live last night in French and that it just went live in Spanish.  He mentioned that one of the first things that happened was a community revolt re; the Columbian government. He went on to tell a story about terrorism…I found it fairly lame just coming from ETECH and hearing about Global Village, but he was trying to prove a point about how the internet is all about connections.   Society is held together by connections. They are related. “What we (Facebook) are doing as a mission is a very important thing,” Mark stated and did I tell you…”Helping people communicate.”

This will go down as the lamest interview ever. 

Let Me Be Mobile

I ran across this “cool” promotion from the CoolSW site.  It’s a user-centric software bundle at LetMeBeMobile.com.  

I did a quick search on the site and 3 of the 4 participating companies were submitted onto CoolSW and it looks like they all got together in a marketing campaign to promote mobile applications and a possibility to win a Zune (30 GB). 

The partners are:

  1. Jajah lets you make ultra low-cost global calls right off your existing phone. No contract, no headset, no computer or Internet connection needed, just big savings. Simply receive a local number for each of your international contacts – dial local and talk global. More information found HERE.
  2. ElephantDrive provides easy-to-use, simple click-to-start online storage and backup capabilities. Get all enterprise-level benefits at a fraction of the cost. Delivering effective and continuous data protections tools for online backup and synchronization, you can keep your stuff within reach anywhere, anytime. More information found HERE. 
  3. Tazti, a free, Web 2.0 style speech recognition application that lets you talk to your PC to navigate Facebook, Myspace & iTunes, search the Internet, create your own speech commands and so much more! For XP, Vista, and Mac via Parallels. More information found HERE.
  4. Talkhouse takes speech recognition for searching to a whole new level. It’s mySpeak voice search engine lets you search by keywords and phrases, just like in routine internet searches. Our next generation voice-activated music player provides users with this easy, intuitive search function. More information found HERE.

The members are part of a Software Partner Program which drives increased business and yadda, yadda, yadda…to use the Seinfeld phrase from the 153rd episode.

It’s no iPod, but check out the promotion LetMeBeMobile.com and win that Zune!

If you didn’t see the 90 minute MacWorld keynote here is a quick summary of the product launches yesterday.  Jobs photo courtesy of Apple.  

  • Ad:  Hi I’m a Mac and I’m a PC — New Years ad ran which poked fun at Vista…what are you going to do in ’08…  Then Jobs enters stage.
  • Time Capsule:  backup hardware device the same size as the Apple TV product.  Two models both include Airport 802.11N in a 500MB and 1TB configuration.  Priced at $299 and $499 works in conjunction with Time Machine (back up system) which is included in OS X Leopard.
  • iPhone: 4M sold in the first 200 days (averaged ~20K/day); currently has 19.5% MSS (more than combining the bottom three companies – Palm (9.8%); Motorola (7.4%); Nokia (1.3%).  Enhancement announced:
    1. Maps w/ locations (joint effort by Google and Skyhook Wireless (drove the US & Canada mapping 23M wi-fi hot spots and allows triangulation on the hot spots.  Google triangulates off cell towers and Apple uses both systems in iPhone for identifying location)
    2. Webclips (clipping links to favorite web sites or sub-site
    3. Custom home screen (up to 9)
    4. SMS multiple people at the same time was only one prior
    5. Chapter search for videos and song lyric’s displayed if available
    6. Free software update for all current owners which include the above enhancements
  • iTunes: 4Billion songs sold through iTunes; Christmas day sold 20M songs in one day – highest ever; 125M TV shows sold (more than any other service); 7M movies sold (more than anyone, but didn’t meet expectations).  Enhancements announced:
    1. iTunes Movie Rental (music users have not wanted music rental); Studio’s on board at launch (20th Century Fox, TouchStone, Miramax, MGM, Lions Gate, New Line Cinema, WB, Disney, Sony, Paramount, Universal – essentially all of the studios; More than 1000 films by February
    2. Films available for rental in the 30 days after DVD release
    3. Watch anywhere (PC, iPod or TV)
    4. iPod Touch added 5 new apps including maps, email, SMS, web clips and chapter search
    5. Didn’t state, but looks like progressive download as the movie starts within seconds of the rental purchase
    6. 30 days to watch the movie and 24 hours watch it once started
    7. Can transfer the movie watching to another device in the middle (start on a PC then xfer to iPod for a flight)
    8. DVD quality, but also providing Hi-Def (100 titles today growing fast) with 5.1 Dolby surround sound
    9. Pricing is DVD library release – $2.99; DVD New Release – $3.99; HD library – $3.99 and HD new release – $4.99
    10. Service started today in the U.S. and goes International later this year
  • Apple TV: stated that we’ve all missed (Microsoft, Netflix, Nubu and other logos on screen) how to get the movies to the flat panel in the living room.  Apple TV was designed as an accessory for iTunes & computer, but it’s about Movies, Movies, Movies.  Enhancements announce:
    1. Price dropped from $299 to $229
    2. All new user interface
    3. Leverages the new iTune movie rental service
    4. Rent directly from the Apple TV box – no computer needed now
    5. Photo from Flickr can be streamed or from your dot mac accounts
    6. Will auto sync with your computer if you want
    7. Free software upgrade to all existing users and get the functionality
  • 20th Century Fox: Jim Gianopolos (Chairman & CEO) on stage to discuss movie rental deal.  Talked about biz models being super important, gushed about how great it is to work with Jobs and put a major plug in for Blu-ray winning the format war as the crowd applauded.
  • MacBook Air: launched a new ultra-thin MacBook to compliment the notebook line up. Standard model priced at $1799.  Model with the 64GB SSD flash over $3K,.  Compared the “Air” to the Sony TZ series which had previously set the benchmark in this category.  The thickest part of the Air is thinner than the thinnest part of the Sony for comparisons.  Features:
    1. .76 to .16 thin (no optical device, can get one external if you need)
    2. 13.3 inch LCD back light display
    3. Full size and backlight keyboard
    4. Multi-touch (similar to the iPhone – swipe, pinch etc.) capability on the trackpad
    5. 80GB HDD and optional 64GB SSD (pricey however)
    6. 2GB memory and 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo (C2D) standard or optional 1.8GHz
    7. 802.11N and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
    8. Usage model changing and driving wireless even for software download – now leverage a PC optical drive across the network
    9. Talked about environment: mercury free, arsenic free glass, Bromide Fire Retardant (BFR) and PVC free
    10. 56% less packaging waste
    11. Jobs applauded the joint effort and working with Intel
  • Intel: Paul Otellini was invited on stage to evangelize the 30% reduced form factor of the C2D.  Gave Jobs a souvenir of one and gushed about how great it was to work with Apple.  For those of you into little known factual tidbits, it was interesting to note that the video graphic overlay while Paul walked on stage used the old Intel dropped “e” logo.  The graphic/name/title on the projected stage TV was correct.
  • Summation: In the first 2 weeks of the New Year Apple launched:
    1. Fastest ever Mac Pro desktop system
    2. Time Capsule
    3. Software updates for iPhone, iPod Touch along with new apps for Touch
    4. iTunes Movie Rental
    5. Apple TV (software upgrade) along with HD video content
    6. MacBook Air – Ultra thin laptop
    7. Last slide stated…And there’s still 50 weeks left….
  • Randy Newman: Music artist extraordinaire played a couple songs for the audience.  Newman photo courtesy of YouTube. He starts by telling us about his trip to Europe, where he noticed that “they don’t like us so much.”   And he sang a song he wrote about it…”A Few Words in Defense of Our Country.”

 A couple of parting thoughts about Randy Newman.  The song choice was odd.  If Apple signed off on the first song he sang they have some guts.  A little piano ditty that compares the U.S. to Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Europe during the time of the Inquisition.  Now that’s an interesting mix of art meeting commerce.  Highly political and bashed a number of things which will only add to the blog fodder I’m sure.

HD DVD Takes a Nose Dive

By now you’ve read about Warner Bros. Entertainment announcement to drop HD DVD and focus on Blu-ray, a Sony Corp. backed technology vs. rival Toshiba.  Warner was the last major studio to put out movies in both formats and after May they will exclusively release on Blu-ray. 

The announcement by Warner rattled the industry nerves to the point that the N.A. HD DVD Promotional Group (which included Intel and Microsoft) canceled a major media event.  Who would blame them?   It’s not the kind of exciting news for what’s to come in 2008! 

I predicted Sony would not allow the “Betamax” struggle to repeat and that Blu-ray would prevail (HERE).  No need to bore you with the technology advantages of each format.  Ironically HD DVD has better interactivity today than Blu-ray, but that will evolve with BD Live.  I also observed evidence of a move of desperation during the holiday season when Toshiba HD DVD players flooded the market at $179.99.  Then Sony countered and jumped on the price discounting wagon with their BDP-S300 (entry level player) at Costco for $278.99 after a $100 rebate.  A $100 premium and never mind it didn’t support 7.1 audio. 

So what will Microsoft do now?  Speaking to Reuters, Albert Penello, group marketing manager for Xbox hardware, said in response to a question about Microsoft possibly supporting a Blu-ray accessory if HD DVD failed that they would consider it.  According to Engadget during holiday ’07 consumers purchased 92K HD DVD players for the xBox 360.   I believe Microsoft really wants the market to shift to digital download (aligns with xBox 360 content download service and their xBox 360 IPTV directions) and the format war was likely viewed as a gift which stalled adoption, create consumer confusion while digital download services improve. 

What is really important to most consumers is that the Warner announcement translates to the release of more movies which we want to watch (rent/buy) in stunning hi-def.  Now that the format battle is over I can plan on the Blu-ray release of Lord of the Rings (LOTR).  New Line (parent Time-Warner) will make this happen in ’08. 

And if all this wasn’t enough good news for the week, Sony demoed at CES the “next generation” of portable cinema viewing.  Samples of Blu-ray movies were successfully copied from a PlayStation 3 Blu-ray drive to a PlayStation Portable’s memory stick, as part of Sony’s new web-oriented service/approach to interactivity and play anywhere portability known as BD Live.  Other abilities include ring tone downloading and other media content to a BD Live media player.  One issue is that current Blu-ray players in the market (including the PS3) do not support BD-Live, but Sony confirmed the PS3 firmware update will be rolling out as early as this month to incorporate BD-Live playback into the system.

Now if Universal and Paramount can see that it makes sense (or is that $cents) to move to Blu-ray we’d be all set for a great hi-def year!

The Rolling Exhibition

As a gadget guy with a photo obsession I try not to be swayed or get “lost” in the digital technology which often runs multi-levels deep and just enjoy the hobby for the sake of enjoying pictures as well as seeing what others can do with a camera.  

I’m often surprised at the great quality of pictures on the internet and when there is a story that goes along with the photo/artist I’m listening.   Such is the case with Kevin Connolly. Not only is he a great photographer with fascinating intellect, but he provides profound insight about people that will make you stop and speculate.  I really think it’s the start of something big. 

What makes this so interesting to me is that Kevin was born without legs.  Kevin prefers to get around on his skate board rather than wheel chairs. When the terrain isn’t skateboard friendly he walks on his hands.  Imagine being ask if you were eaten by a shark or lost your legs in Iraq?  He has been ask! 

My initial reaction was one of sadness, but after learning and reading more about this individual I have an incredible amount of respect for what he has accomplished and the obstacles he has over come. 

Kevin is a championship skier, world traveler, photographer and skateboarder.  He is a senior film student at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.  Last year he completed a year of study at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch NZ – a world away from his native state of Montana.  He placed second at the 2007 X Games as a mono-skier.   

And while traveling around the world he captured the expressions of people from his camera’s unique vantage point as they see him getting around on his skateboard.  Kevin has exhibited his photographic study called ‘The People are Curious’.  The photo essay is about how around the world people react in the same way, they are curious and they stare.

The work is part of his The Rolling Exhibition is 3200 photos he shot while seeing 15 countries from his unique vantage.   I would truly like to meet Kevin and spend time listening to his travel stories.  

What an inspiration for all of us into photography or just living life.

Picture by Chris Toalson courtesy of Kevin Connolly.

I didn’t make CES this year so, I’m doing a bit of “web watching” and trying to stay current on the events.  

One keynote I sat through was the live webcast of Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini, eJamming’s Alan Jay Glueckman and front man Steve Harwell of SmashMouth.  This was an interesting and entertaining demo. 

As a musician I admire what eJaming software is all about.  They are enabling musicians to play together in real-time as if in the same room, but in actuality they could be across the world from each other.  The power of today’s PC’s and the internet make it all possible.  While there was some notable sync delays in the band being remote while Harwell sang on the CES stage — it was cool.  

This technology will only get better and truly encourages creativity, teaching options for kids and will expand the community of musicians. 

There were a couple of references to SmashMouth playing at the Intel party tonight…sorry I’ll miss that one. 

Note: Picture courtesy Intel webcast.

itunes_roundJust days before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where legendary musicians and the buzz of new product introductions will showcase how consumers manage and enjoy their digital media “everywhere”, the Washington Post is reporting that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has a federal case against Jeffrey Howell, an AZ, man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer.  RIAA maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.  

Huh?  It’s illegal to transfer CDs to a computer?  I thought court rulings over the last 20 years have found no violation of copyright law in the use of VCRs and other devices to time-shift TV programs; that is, to make personal copies for the purpose of making portable a legally obtained recording?

Who is RIAA?  It’s an organization that represents the major recording labels in the USA. These labels pay multi-millions of dollars for this representation and since RIAA is based in Washington, DC., they act as an industry lobbyist, literally.  They often urge, cajole or otherwise influence Congress to take their side in the “battle” against “music piracy.”  I’m not sure who would visit, but the RIAA even ran a Holiday Anti-Piracy Campaign message streaming across its web site offering tips on “avoiding pirate products.”

And northwest news the Oregon State Attorney General and the University of Oregon are being assaulted by RIAA’s tactics.  RIAA subpoenaed the University asking it to turn over the names of students that it suspected of making copyrighted material available to file sharers.  Note the keyword here is suspected.  While no one would disagree that it’s appropriate for victims of copyright infringement to pursue statutory remedies, shouldn’t that pursuit be tempered by basic rights of privacy and due process?

Typically RIAA harassment comes in the form of a pre-litigation letter to “suspects” they believe are guilty file sharers. There is even a credit card payment link – p2plawsuits.com where these so called “suspects” that receive the pre-litigation letters can drop off a quick $3000 to stop the RIAA from suing them.  Maybe next up is payroll deduction options?!  Good grief!

But that’s not good enough.  RIAA is now running around with deep- pocket teams of lawyers saying that even making a personal copy on your computer is a violation.  This hard-line position is clear. RIAA wants to roll back time to pre-internet days of vinyl albums.  If you make copies of copyrighted music recordings – even on cassette tape – you’re stealing.  You’re breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.

The RIAA’s legal crusade against consumers (its customers) is a text-book example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed.

UPDATE: The Washington Post left out a couple of facts that are now being reported for the people who need to read all the details.  Turns out the article was misleading in that the RIAA was not only going after Howell for ripping his CD’s, but for also putting those ripped files into a shared Kazaa folder.  I disagree that because he put them in a shared folder its infringement, but its a different claim than the original one of just ripping them to his PC.  It will be interesting to watch…

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