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Logic Puzzles

American Flag

It’s closing in on Independence Day, my elected representatives are on vacation and I have some thoughts on Logic Puzzles…yeah, I need a day off work!

Many of the leading nonprofits leverage the internet to mobilize us and advocate on important public policy issues. Literacy-tests to vote were abolished long ago, but members of Congress don’t want you to contact them now without taking a quiz!

What’s a Logic Puzzle? Example: If x is 1 and y is 2. What is x? Which of the following numbers is largest: 53, 52 or 05? Get the answer wrong three times in a row and you’re blocked from sending an email to your elected government representative!

You may not be aware, but there are an alarming number of Congressional offices implementing technology that adds a step to the process for you (constituents) who want to communicate with your state or federal legislators. The new technology, commonly known as a logic puzzle, requires human interaction and is intended to prevent automated and repeated mass use of Web site functions such as sending emails — actions not initiated by real people. You may have seen similar puzzles on other Web sites, particularly when creating a new account or email address.

What’s behind Congressional adoption of logic puzzles? It’s the result of several factors: growing use of email by advocacy organizations and their constituents; lack of adequate Congressional staff to handle rising email volumes; and pervasive distrust of form letters on Capitol Hill. Access is everything in politics. The Internet, especially email, provides the average Joe the access to our elected representatives and the ability to reach politicians. We often use “form” communications to reach Congress — letters with identical content, but from different senders. Form letters are, very efficient for nonprofits or activist groups conducting advocacy campaigns and it’s also convenient for us.

Not surprisingly, in the last 10 years individual communications to Congress increased four-fold (300 million messages/year) due to electronic communications, according to a study by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps Congress become more productive and effective through better management. However, Congressional office staffing has not grown at a pace to support, and the study states that approximately 3/4 of all Congressional offices do not trust the legitimacy of form letters.

Where do you sit on this debate? Is it reasonable to ask, in this age of mass communication, that a real human be behind the letters that your representatives receive? Do you care if this means that nonprofits or activists are going to have to do a little more work? Does copying a six- or eight-digit number or answering a question bother you, or do you see this as just another step of the “overhead” process in the new digital democracy?

Happy 4th of July America.

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iWait in iLine

Kris Tate and ScobleImage credit, Gabe Rivera of Techmeme

In reading RSS feeds this morning people started lining up at 3am in Palo Alto. It’s a once in a life time event…well, that is until the next game console gizmo releases this fall. They are all there at the Apple store…podcasters (Robert Scoble), the Zooomr CEO (Thomas Hawk), the CTO (Kristopher Tate), legendary Apple developer Bill Atkinson, Digg founder (Kevin Rose – hey Kev, still waiting on that return phone call…guess you’re busy!).

Speaking of PR, Zooomr knows how to get free press.

What sticks out in my mind is that homeless guy (at least he looks homeless from the picture) wearing a Zooomr sticker on his shirt, sitting 5th in line. Now $600 is a lot of money to spend on a combined phone/iPod, but to get your Zooomr logo on the front page of media all over the country—that is priceless!

And speaking of PR (blunders?) a semiconductor company in Santa Clara, CA — launched/unveiled the latest phase of it’s expanded 2nd Life presence — on the same day as the iPhone launch — rounding out what is now known as the Intel Island.

Cool, but a rather difficult day to get PR visibility with all the iPhone noise…

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The US Open “HD” streams are most impressive quality. But, does 700Kbps, 640 x 360 resolution really qualify the video as “HD?” I think not and is a misrepresentation!

The commercials are tolerable. They have the preroll ad when you invoke the channel. After that, they seem to have the ads synced with the TV commercial breaks since it’s simulcast with the live ESPN coverage.

This is standard definition (SD) – pure and simple. Any misrepresentation as HD is purely false. SD has spatial resolutions up to 720 x 480 (NTSC) and 720 x 576 (PAL). HD is recognized for spatial resolutions beginning at 1280 x 720 and going up to 1920 x 1080.

ESPN’s corporate brethren at ABC are delivering what many believe is the best streaming video experience on the web (via Flash Video and a special “Move Media Player” plug-in that appears to tap into an optimized CDN) at landing, and they are planning to offer full 720p (1280×720) HD next month. See the blog for the details and some screenshots pertaining to the upcoming HD experience.

I’m very impressed by the video quality of what’s available on line now (and the ABC UI is pretty slick). If ABC can pull off the 720p stream, I’m prepared to be dazzled.

There may be a day where I won’t need to pay (as much) for comcastic…

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Need I say more?!!
We should all do this to our TV!!

Photo Courtesy of TELPortfolio

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Lemonade from Lemons

uTube BldLast year uTube.com was angered by a case of mistaken identity. Based in Perrysburg, Ohio and since 1985, Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, has sold tube, pipe and rollforming machinery. The confusion with YouTube.com sent uTube’s traffic soaring from 1,500 visits per month to more than 2 million. Even the police in Australia mistakenly accused uTube of having child pornography on their Web site and it further hurt their business.

So, Universal Tube did what all American companies do. It sued Google’s YouTube last November after seeing traffic spikes overwhelm its servers. But Ralph Girkins, Universal Tube’s President decided uTube.com needed to make the most of all the traffic it received from people mixing up its site. Ralph decided they would cater to the “lost” YouTube fans by expanding into a completely different market: ring tones and redirect links for social networks and/or online dating sites.

Google is big gun in the market, but Ralph recently reported that revenue generated by the ring tones is making enough to pay for uTube.com’s hosting costs, however it has a long ways to go before it pays off the legal bills.

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mscape logo
Mediascapes are mobile, location–based experiences that incorporate digital media with the sights, sounds, and textures of the world around you. A mediascape blends digital images, video, audio and interactions with the physical landscape.

“mscape” is the code name for a new technology from HP Labs. mscape software and the mscape player let you create and enjoy mediascapes. And mscapers.com is the place for sharing and downloading mediascapes on your GPS–enabled devices.

You can play mediascapes on a GPS–enabled Windows Mobile device. Games, guided walks and tours, and destinations are among the mediascapes created to date. You can download a mediascape onto a portable device, and see how the landscape comes alive as you move through the environment.

Browse HERE.

A simple and cool idea…

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The Playstation 3 pulled down Sony profits in fiscal 2007 with a loss of $1.97B for the game units $8.6B in revenues. Sony stated they sold 5.5 million PS3 through March 31, 2007 and 13.2M software units. I’m not predicting doom and gloom as the PS3 was designed to last multiple years and they knew the first year would have losses — maybe not as high — but Sony is behind in the console market, a market they dominated as the #1 position.

However, this isn’t about finance — it’s about the free firmware update — something for nothing. I downloaded over the weekend the latest PS3 firmware update (Version 1.80) which provides DVD Upscaling**, Remote Play on PSP (PlayStation Portable) via the internet and DLNA transfer of media content that is also enabled.

The DVD movies are upscaled to full 1080p HD resolution if you have a compatible HDTV set. The capability to upscale DVDs to HD quality is a feature normally only associated with top range DVD players, and the latest firmware upgrade now allows enhanced viewing pleasure from my DVD collection.

The firmware (V1.80) update also allows me to enjoy Remote Play on my PSP across the internet, allowing it to access my PS3 anywhere in the world where a broadband internet connection is available. The update allows me, on a home network, to view and play rich media content such as images, music and video on my PS3, that is stored on any DLNA enabled devices such as my media hub PC and/or laptops elsewhere in the house. All of this reinforce Sony/PS3’s credentials as a home entertainment hub that deserves pride of place in the Living Room. There are a host of other enhancements included in the update like the ability to print photo images stored on PS3’s hard disk or inserted storage media to a selection of Epson printers.

I’ve become somewhat of a zombie on updates. Always for bug fixes or plugging security holes. The V1.80 firmware update is dramatic and add’s great features.

What a novel idea…

**Upscaling: is a feature that can be used to enable content recorded in SD resolution (480p/480i) to be displayed in HD resolution (1080p/1080i/720p).

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