Friday, February 29, 2008

Bill Gates on LinkedIn

Can't imagine that Bill needs to "social network". But I wonder how many people have "linked in" just incase ;-)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Robin Williams Covers for BBC America's Gremlins

Megan Barnett over at Portfolio.Com blogs from TED 2008 currently underway in California. She actually touches on a growing trend - the BBC turns up with a crew to record one of its TV debates at a major conference (e.g. Davos or TED). The problem is that these TV debates are so different in atmosphere to the rest of the proceedings that they may be damaging the brand in the end, especially as people in the audience no longer have much of a thrill "being on television somewhere on the other side of the world". Having been at a taping of these debates a few times, although they are recorded as live, if they are used on World Service radio, there are some painfully slow sessions at the end of the taping which are simply to record links to introduce people on the radio (at the point where subtitles appear in vision). Watching the presenter doing this for about 5 minutes is not very entertaining. And, as in the case below, the danger is that the speakers quickly jump on their own hobby horses because they play to the camera not the audience.

Thank God celebrities attend TED.

That's what plenty of TED attendees muttered to themselves last night when a special BBC America taping with a panel on new media went technologically awry just moments after starting.

After a few awkward moments of witty banter among the panelists, who included Sergey Brin of Google, the journalist Carl Bernstein, Queen Noor of Jordan, psychologist Dan Gilbert, and African journalist Andrew Mwenda, a heckler spoke up from the back of the room.

The crowd hushed down as soon as it realized who was doing the heckling: attendee Robin Williams. It being Robin Williams, it didn't take much cheering from the crowd to get him on stage. He then spent the next 15 minutes doing improv standup comedy to an eager crowd and an embarrassed BBC America staff.

"A new internet service in Israel is called Netanyahu." "Sergey Brin: started in garage and now he owns everything." "So, how much money have we raised so far?" And on and on, in the way only Robin Williams can do.

The BBC finally got its technological ducks in a row (Williams: "This is supposed to be a presentation on new media?"), and the panel went on.

If only it had ended on that high note. The hour-long panel (was it really just an hour?) on a potentially provocative subject proved to be largely a disappointment. Each panelist seemed to want to talk about something different, and the moderator couldn't quite hold it together.

In a complete reversal at one point during the Q&A, one of the panelists, Mwenda, asked one of the audience members a question. He wanted to know if Forrest Whitaker had a different impression of Uganda from the media before he went to the country to research his role for his Oscar winning performance in The Last King of Scotland.

Whitaker's answer was eloquent and thoughtful. But it still had nothing to do with new media.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kodak Moment - Reinventing the Corporation

Nice video of how a chemical company was forced to change. Polaroid has gone away. Kodak almost followed them, until they realised they were a "sensor" company not a chemical processing operation. It takes some guts to admit it took too long to see the writing on the wall. But this video, now being shown at several conferences dealing with digital technology, is not only funny, there's a lesson in there for all of us.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Few Creative Men

Great stuff, good writing, although the sync with original goes haywire at the end. Ripe for jump editing.

Death of Digital Radio Mondiale in 2008 as well?

Mike Barraclough in the UK forwards a link from a station called European Gospel Radio. I quote

Our CEO is just back from Malaysia, where we have been coordinating the next period (summer 2008) frequency allocations for all of our broadcasts at the HFCC

From both formal and informal discussions among participants at the HFCC, it is now clear that the proposed DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) system, that would have converted analogue Shortwave to digital, FM like quality reception would hardly be implemented if ever on a large scale, beyond the current experimental stage. In theory, DRM would have allowed listeners in richer nations in Europe and North America to re-discover Shortwave, with a noise free reception in digital quality, using new digital receivers. To make a long story short, the main reason of the demise of DRM is the lack of receivers. After more than three years since the first experimental broadcasts in DRM, no receiver has been produced at a cost and in large numbers to be widely adopted, and there are no plans from any large manufacturer to produce such receivers now. If you want to read more about DRM, check our FAQ at or visit the DRM site at

For this reason conventional, analogue, Shortwave may still be safely considered a rather cheap way of reaching very large audiences with a single broadcast, that is able to cover a territory as large as a one or two continents at any one time. Internet is also taking a lot of listeners away from conventional broadcast media (TV, FM, AM/Medium Wave and Shortwave alike), and for this reason we intend to develop even further our audio and video streaming services.

Writing off DRM seems to be done on the grounds that there are no receivers in the market. That's true. We're 12 years since the official launch of DRM in China (I made the first set of test transmission tapes when at Radio Netherlands) but still there is no one willing to take the plunge and mass produce them. And they are right to be concerned because the range of programming is not in place to make the system fly. It is also interesting that the die-hard shortwave fans seem to be relieved at any news of DRM's failure - because it means interference levels are lower on the increasingly less crowded bands. They have made a pastime of searching for weak, unusual signals.

But the argumentation goes on, saying that analogue shortwave is therefore here to stay because it is a "rather cheap way of reaching large audiences". Problem is that this is no longer the case. 100-500 kW for a single audio channel is becoming a very expensive way to share an idea - the only way for some countries, but they are definitely in the minority these days. The death of analogue shortwave has far more to do with the lack of decent programming. Compare the 49 metre band with the range of programmes on a wifi-radio or on a free to air satellite TV tuner. Just as few people watch an evening of Youtube, so shortwave has become a medium of last resort. As a former shortwave broadcaster, it is shame to say it. But the fact that this part of the dial is no longer commercially viable speaks volumes. It explains why analogue shortwave is haemorrhaging now, rather than being just the long slow fade.

Let's move on guys. Radio has this terrible user interface, sorting content by frequency. Where are are tagged interfaces for audio and the electronic programme guides? Blinkx experimented with audio and video feeds but is rightly concentrating on the video side of the business. Why? Because radio stations cannot supply them with any relevant metadata. Are you going to leave it all to iTunes? May be you are!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Chad - National Radio station archive plundered

I saw some newswire last week indicating that the national radio station in Chad was looted during the recent unrest there and that they were now operating out of a temporary facility. Al Jazeera English ran a story today confirming it and showing some pictures of the devastation. The fire damaged material is, of course, irreplaceable. But I would offer phone cards as a reward for any tapes/discs which are returned to the station - a kind of historic amnesty, since the tapes and discs are useless to most people. This report says it would cost US 6 million dollars to rebuild the station - now that's where I disagree. Use the opportunity to rethink the current way of working!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ewan McIntosh on a new strategy for schools

Ewan McIntosh is the National Adviser for Learning and Teaching Scotland, the education agency responsible for curriculum development. At LIFT-08 in Geneva he gave a short talk about how social media creates a far more open education system. Check out this on Google Video...

Marc Canter on ZDNet

Didn't know that Marc has an opera singer background - explained why he burst into song at LeWeb 3.

More Paul Barnett - EA Games

Can't get enough of this guy. Brilliant speech too at LIFT-08 in Geneva. Posted further down this blog.

Francois Grey at LIft-08

Also a great video on what the guys at CERN will do next - in terms of energy not re-inventing the Internet. Tours inside CERN will stop soon - difficult to walk around inside when they are actually using the thing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Genevieve Bell at LIFT-08

This Australian lady gets to travel the world for Intel. When you hear her speak, you'll begin to understand why. Clever. Opinionated. And entertaining.

Wind Down Radio

Wind up Digital Radio
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks

RAIN newsletter reports that Arbitron’s recently-updated “American Radio Listening Trends” report, shows a 3% decline in U.S. per capita radio listening over the past year — and a 16% decline over the past nine years.! (The nine-year trend includes a 25% decline among teens, but the downtrend is not just among young people: The nine-year trends also show a 19% decline in P18-34s, a 12% decline in P35-64s, and even a 12% decline in P65+.) Interestingly, despite the introduction of satellite radio, in-car listening is stable to slightly up for the nine-year period, whereas at-work and in-home listening are both down (26% and 24% respectively.

Sharper Image Dulls

When I am in the US, I sometimes pop into Sharper Image, which is a gadget store full of stuff you don't really need. That includes giant massage chairs, garden speakers, and air purifiers. Spent time browsing, but never bought anything there. Seems in I am good company. Sharper Image Corp has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying declining sales and three straight years of losses led to a shortage of liquidity.

Pick of the Commonwealth Podcast

One thing that I particularly enjoyed doing on the old Media Network radio show was profiles of broadcasters around the world. Towards the end of the 1990's that was almost a monthly feature as we developed the Media Network Safaris series.

Although all that has now ceased, I see that the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association has a series of monthly podcasts that include interviews with their member broadcasters. I enjoyed listening to programme 56, in which producer Robin White travels to Guyana, right on the equator. The climate is hot and sticky...and so is the local politics.

The population is a mixture of black descendants of African slaves imported by the Dutch, descendants of Indian workers brought in by the British, and Guyana's original Amerindians, who have been marginalized.

Robin's guide in Georgetown is Julie Lewis, a famous broadcaster on the state run radio station. Julie has been blind since she was a child. She talks to Robin about her job on the national radio network, and shows him what it's like to get round Georgetown when you can't see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cruyff is back - no more mister nice guy

FC Barcelona Boutique
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Former star player and coach Johan Cruyff is to return to Ajax football club to totally review their football
policy. His surprise appointment today is part of a
shake-up at the Amsterdam football club which will also see the three current supervisory board members step down at the end
of the season, according to news agency ANP.

The reorganisation follows a highly critical report into Ajax’s management since the club was launched on the stock market
in 1998. The report highlighted several management failures as part of the reason why the club has under-performed in the
last few years. Over the past decade Ajax’s purchases on the transfer market have largely been a failure and the club has wasted millions of euros on misguided talent schemes in Africa and Belgium. The last time they won the premier league was in 2004 and its performance in European competitions has declined steadily since the mid-1990s. Ajax is to set up a new management structure. It is unclear what will happen to the current executive board, which also came under ire in the report. With the appointment of Cruijff, it seems increasingly likely that national Dutch coach Marco van Basten will become the club’s new trainer when his contract ends after the European championship this summer.

Ghana - Africa Revisited


June Arunga spoke at DLD- though the video is still hidden on the site. She fully understands that she needs to stay in Africa and build the new Ghana from the ground up. Her vision is to achieve economic growth and productivity with own forces. And she is putting her own money in such projects such as mobile payment.

The African mobile telecommunication market - which has been backed by imports of Chinese handsets is the fastest growing mobile telecommunication market worldwide. Knowing that 90% of the Africans neither have a bank account nor a recognised street address, June sees a great business opportunity in offering mobile payments. People can buy pre-paid cards with their cash and trade and pay with their cell phones across African borders into neighbouring Togo and even into Benin and Nigeria. Together with partners - independent from any bank and government - she has founded a company and is just starting this service in Accra.

BBC SW to Europe bites the dust - II

Got into the International Herald Tribune today with a comment on the ending of BBC's English shortwave broadcasts to Europe. It has been interesting to see the short-wave die-hards trying to justify against the decision with facts plucked out of the air. They assume that shortwave transmitters are 100% efficient and that a 500 kW transmitter just takes 500 kW's from the grid. Sorry. Nearer a Megawatt. The older transmitters are more like 30% efficient. Yes, it is true, there are countries where SW is still the only way of getting a signal into a country. But that is not Western Europe.

And I am amazed at how die-hard radio listeners ignore the shows available on BBC World TV. Click is much better than many of the technology shows on BBC World Service radio. And it has almost as many people working on it. Face the facts guys, radio has become too wrapped up in its own routine and has not woken up to the fact that great content must be findable/searchable. The worst human interface ever is the old SW radio dial with a 1000 stations crammed into a few mm's marked as the 49 metre band. DRM's mistake was not being ready to pick up where SW analogue radio left off, i.e. not only with transmissions but a range of interesting programmes and cheap sets in the shops. It is a different story for parts of Africa, though even there the growth of FM is eating into traditional SW audiences. That's because local radio does local languages, adding information gleaned from international networks or grabbed from the web.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Get out of Media - Ad Age

Good analysis by Bradley Johnson of AdAge today.

Media employment in the USA in December 2007 fell to a 15-year low (886,900), slammed by the slumping newspaper industry. But employment in advertising/marketing-services -- agencies and other firms that provide marketing and communications services to marketers -- broke a record in November (769,000). Marketing consulting powered that growth.

Here's the reason behind the disparity: Marketers still invest in marketing, but they have options far beyond paid media: digital initiatives, direct marketing, promotions and events, just to name a few. That creates more opportunities for consultants to help define strategies.

Agencies also have adapted, expanding beyond simply creating and placing ads. Indeed, Ad Age DataCenter research has shown that U.S. marketing-communications agencies collectively in 2005 for the first time generated less than half of their revenue from traditional media and media planning/buying.

Falling stocks
Want more evidence of tumult in media? Consider performance of stocks in the Ad Age/Bloomberg AdMarket 50 since May 2002, when U.S. measured media spending began to recover from the last recession. Since then, four of five agency stocks and 15 of 26 marketer stocks have risen. But a majority (11 of 19) media stocks have fallen.

Among all the ad-related job sectors, the hot spot is marketing consulting. Employment in that field in December reached a record 148,500, accounting for the lion's share of job gains over the past year in advertising and marketing services.

Marketing consultancies over the past year added 14,500 jobs (up 10.8%), nearly matching staff cuts at newspapers (down 16,900 or 4.7%).

The job figures come from an Ad Age DataCenter analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For purposes of the jobs tally, Ad Age defines media as newspapers, broadcast and cable TV, radio, magazines and internet media companies.

Ad/marketing services consists of marketing consultancies, ad and PR agencies, media agencies/media rep firms and graphic design firms, all of which saw gains in 2007; and firms involved in market research, ad-material distribution and direct-mail advertising, which cut jobs last year.

Below the bubble
With the notable exception of marketing consultancies, employment in advertising/marketing-services sectors remains below sectors' historic highs (hit mostly in the 2000 bubble). Ad-agency staffing, for example, is 10% below its 2000 peak; employment at PR agencies is 11.5% off its 2000 high.

Still, ad/marketing-services sectors have rebounded from the ad industry's January 2004 post-recession employment nadir. Advertising/marketing services has added 106,000 jobs since then; marketing consulting accounted for nearly half (48,200) of those gains.

It's a different picture in media. Since media employment peaked in dot-com-infused 2000, media companies have eliminated one in six jobs (167,600).

Newspapers, TV and radio all cut staffing last year. The only media sectors to add jobs: magazines (up a meager 400 jobs) and internet media companies (up 9,200).

Web still hot
Internet media companies, a sector that includes search engines and web portals, is a bright spot, with a 13.4% jump in jobs last year. Still, internet-media employment remains 31% below its dot-com-bubble peak.

The big problem is newspapers, which account for half (82,800) of media jobs lost since 2000. One in four newspaper jobs have disappeared since newspaper employment peaked in 1990.

Newspapers, saddled with heavy costs of printing and distribution, last year accounted for 38% of U.S. media jobs, down from 50% in 1990.

HD-DVD - "It's Dead Jim" More Tosh from Toshiba

I thought Toshiba was smart. So they lost the HD DVD format war. Everyone is abandoning the format as though it were bird-flu. Toshiba PR is still putting out " we're still undecided" messages to the press. Memo to Toshiba management - it's dead, decide, cut production and move on. Oh, and fire the PR guys who keep spinning this nonsense.

We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps. We remain firm in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to the wants and needs of the consumer.

Yea, right!

Update: Tuesday 19th AM in Tokyo, Toshiba officially pulled the plug in March. 1 million players sold worldwide, some as part of a X-Box deal. Wonder if there will ever be a Blu-Ray add on for the X-Box? Probably not.

BBC World Service Ends Shortwave to Europe

The BBC World Service website says their remaining shortwave transmissions* to Europe will close today on Monday 18th February 2008.

This change is being made in line with listener trends in radio. Increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to listen to radio on a range of other platforms including FM, satellite and online, with fewer listening on shortwave.

The asterix explains that DRM (digital shortwave) transmissions are unaffected, but frankly I think today is a rather momentous day, meaning the end of analogue shortwave as we know it in the developed parts of the world. Shortwave radio is certainly the medium of last resort. DRM has been a huge disappointment - more than 12 years since its official launch as a standard, there is still nothing in the mainstream shops. So the future is wifi, DVB-H, especially with NOKIA being the largest radio manufacturer these days. DRM now stands for "Doesn't Really Matter". For me, at least, the window of opportunity has now closed. The sun has set!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Whiteboard Wisdoms Series

Recently persuaded author and Media Futurist Gerd Leonhard to record a series of talks about how musicians and other creators are empowered by the Internet. Gerd, who is originally German, but has lived for many years in the US and now Switzerland, explains how creatives can best use the net to help their careers. Having edited them down into Youtube length presentations, we're now experimenting with the best sites to upload to. The originals were compressed into Quicktime at 3 MB/sec and I used wireless mikes to improve the sound.

Here are the first two


Bill Cockayne on Change at LIFT-08

Bill Cockayne is not only a great source of inspiration about change management - he's also one hell of a nice guy. He did the wrap up at LIFT-08 and sat chatting about his experiences in Stanford for some time afterwards. You don't get this kind of access at DAVOS or other conferences for change.

Nabaztag may be breeding

Ô grand Nabaztag
Originally uploaded by mauricesvay
The wifi rabbit may be breeding. In fact they are using the wifi rabbit to read children's books in France. On sale in FNAC.

TSR New Technology Show

I really like the way Swiss public broadcaster TSR (Television Swiss Romande) packages new technology into a weekly show. I understand the team started as an Internet only part of the station, they migrated to both TV and web. The style is fast-paced and fresh. It mixes their own ideas and reportages with material gleaned from the web or colleague broadcasters. These guys also made all the interviews and registration at LIFT-08, which happened recently in Geneva. The February 14th episode looks at Internet pranksters who published their exploits on Dailymotion (the French Youtube) and later went on to mainstream fame and (perhaps) fortune.

The Story of the Nabaztag Wifi Rabbit

Rafi Haladjian, is the father of the wifi rabbit. Very entertaining presentation at LIFT-08 which explains the history of Violet in 2003. He talks about the bandwidth of attention and why the video screen is not the only way to display information.

From Pirate to

Pierre Bellanger is the Chairman of Skyrock and has exactly the right idea of the way mobile and radio will develop together. I was amazed at what they are doing, not only in France, but in North and West Africa. Their social network has 7,7 billion page views a month. 500 million posts on their blogs. And these figures are mainly in French speaking parts of the world. They want to become the No.1 teenage destination.

Nokia on User Experiences

Younghee Jung is a exploratory design researcher for Nokia based in Tokyo. Interested in the work they have been doing in India, Ghana and Brazil asking people to design their own mobile phone. Implications here for the radio community.

Prof Kevin Warwick

Kevin has done more than most for the advancement of science, like having an interface implanted in your arm for three months. I asked him at the end why he eventually had it taken out. His work for people suffering from Parkinson's Disease is simply world class.

Scott Smith

Had dinner with Scott Smith, a US based futurist who gave a great presentation on the last day of LIFT-08. I really like this approach to future thinking.

Lots on Line Doing Stuff - EA

Paul Barnett, Creative Director at Electronic Arts is a Brit living in Washington DC. His job is stuck between the people with the vision at EA games and those who have to sit down and program the games. He loves to make games that make money, something that too few companies are doing just yet. Paul gives a fantastic presentation which illuminates how little the games industry really knows about what it going to be successful and which platform will eventually dominate.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Marks at 3GSM MWC Barcelona

Just back in the Netherlands after trawling the halls of the FIRA exhibition site in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress. Lots of VERY interesting products, concepts and software on show this year - and some marketing disasters.

Orange get my vote for the biggest missed opportunity. They have great HD-Video to mobile technology - yet their stand at MWC was populated by people shooing away the press and anyone who "didn't have an appointment". They were definitely not a "smooth operator" like they appeared to be at Milia 2007 in Cannes. Fire the marketing guys, I say.

More to come as I upload the stuff and sort out 20kgs of paper. Definitely worth hauling it back though.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chupa Chups

Chupa Chups
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Didn't know that Chupa Chups lollipops were originally invented in Barcelona. They are 50 years old this week, although the history goes back to the 19th century,

Josep Bernat, the paternal grandfather of the founder of the Chupa Chups® Group, was recognised as the first confectionery maker in Spain on opening a shop in one of Barcelona’s most thriving commercial areas. This shop soon turned into a small sweet factory where his 6 children worked. The business was sadly destroyed during the Spanish civil war, but the art of candy making survived and was passed down through the generations.

In 1950, at the age of 26, one of Josep Bernat’s grandsons, Enric, having accumulated experience working for other confectioners decided it was time to go it alone.

He opened his own small confectionery factory called Productos Bernat and business boomed. Together with Nuria Serra, his new bride and daughter of another Barcelona confectioner, they set about laying the foundations of their new venture.

In 1954, Domingo Massanes, a family friend and owner of a food and confectionery company, asked him to take control of Granja Asturias S.A.; a flagging company producing over 200 products derived from apples. On accepting the challenge, the enterprising Enric negotiated a unique contract; if he was able to pull the company out of its difficulties, he would be entitled to 50% of its income and shares. Under his guidance, just one year later Granja Asturias S.A. began to achieve profits and in 1958 thanks to his unusual contract and the success of the company, Enric Bernat controlled the full 100%.

Enric had noticed that sweets did not appear to be designed for children as the sweet consumption of the day invariably resulted in a very sticky mess - and very desperate parents. After the research then showed that 67 per cent of consumers were children under 16, Enric Bernat decided to think about creating a sweet that could keep both the children and their parents happy. His idea was simple but radically different to anything available in the Spanish market at that time. He wanted to create a product that would be like “eating a sweet with a fork”.

This idea revolutionised sweet eating habits in Spain and the product that was to become Chupa Chups® lollipop was born. Now owned by an Italian group.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Whopper Freakout Campaign

Interesting to see this experiment in Nevada where two Burger King's temporarily discontinued the "Whopper" to see how customers would react.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Revenge of the Customer

Never mind aboout Egg withdrawing credit cards from UK customers, basically because they don't use them enough. Barclay's did the same to me 18th months ago. Having been a BC user since I was 18, I suddenly got a snotty, automated letter in November 2006 saying that because I hadn't used the card for 2 years, I was obviously not interested in their services. They then announced that the account was being closed in the next 30 days and that I should slice the card in two. A sort of "cease and desist" letter I suppose. The tone of the letter really annoyed me. No encouragement to rediscover their services, no "thanks for the loyalty" over most of those years. So it is with some secret pleasure I see that Barclaycard is closing down its centre in Northampton. Up to 160 people are to lose their jobs when Barclaycard closes its credit card production and statement mailing centre at Bewer House in the town. Print production will be outsourced to RR Donnelley in Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire, with mailing operations moved to Leicestershire.

Sorry, but if that's the way you reward loyalty, then it is indeed time to shutter the place.

My Aruban Holloway - sorry holiday

Aruban Tourist Board needs all the help it can get in the coming years - the image of the island being shattered in North America as a destination for drunks, snorters and gamblers. The disappearance of Nathalee Holloway has damaged the economy no end - and the slow reaction by the authorities doesn't help. Besides, the tourist office has one of the world's worst websites. You try and navigate the thing - it is a temple to some flash designer, who was obviously smoking something when they put it together. Ughhh...

KLM's Check-in Broken again

Its becoming impossible to check in with KLM these days. I get this error message so often its becoming a joke. Time for them to get new people in the IT department. They obviously never have to catch a plane.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Public Radio Cuts proposed in USA

The Bush Administration's final budget proposal for National Public Radio will mean a 60% cut to member stations, dropping NPR's federal subsidy to US$200 million for 2009 and $220 million for 2010. NPR says the cuts are "significantly deeper" than in past years when pubcasters successfully lobbied the public to put pressure on lawmakers - and restore their funding (via Inside Radio).

This puts the subsidy for NPR well below what some larger European countries spend on public radio, for a population of 301 million.

Motorola and the Mobility Business

I think these ads about mobility will be around a lot longer than Motorola plans to stay in the mobile business. Assuming the rumours are true... live in Safari is experimenting with live editions. If they want to involve the world then need to try a little later in the day. 1400 UTC is a great time for most areas, except perhaps New Zealand.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Superbowl Ads & SBS-6

Interesting to compare the Superbowl ads to the ads and promos they were showing on SBS-6 this evening during the 2-hour "mystery solved" special by crime investigator and journalist Peter R de Vries. Peter solves crimes - and this time it was the turn of the Natalee Holloway case which has been a major blow to the tourism economy of Aruba. Through a series of elaborate undercover interviews, the Dutch suspect Joran van der Sloot confesses on camera. Still not clear how she died, but clear that the body was dumped in the sea. US viewers were no-doubt more interested in the Superbowl. And with super Tuesday coming up, I wonder when the material from SBS will impact the US market?

What I found strange was that SBS-6 couldn't be bothered to make different trailers in the several adbreaks they built around the broadcast. Their chance to show off their creativity and they blew it big time.

Google on the Microsoft Bid for Yahoo - Check the Mirror

Just saw this note posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer for Google. Tend to agree with some of it, although I am not particularly a fan of the way Google is gobbling up companies either - looks like they killed Jaiku.

The openness of the Internet is what made Google -- and Yahoo! -- possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It's what makes the Internet such an exciting place.

So Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It's about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors'
email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers.

This hostile bid was announced on Friday, so there is plenty of time for these questions to be thoroughly addressed. We take Internet openness, choice and innovation seriously. They are the core of our culture. We believe that the interests of Internet users come first -- and should come first -- as the merits of this proposed acquisition are examined and alternatives explored.

Hmm. As Steve Gillmor points out "while Microsoft is up-front about establishing a contract with users for their gestures, Google rolls out a feature of Google Reader that ignores users’ privacy. Suddenly the completely unrelated act of chatting on Gtalk with someone who guesses your gmail name is used as permission to reveal your shared feed’s address and data to any of the above. It’s not that I am particularly worried about it; it’s just that the only way people could access the unguessable URL before was by having it publicly shared in email or a blog post. Certainly not by a tangentially-related contract where the only opt is out by manually hiding the contacts of those you don’t want to have see your shares, or by globally deleting the whole store. Now that’s arrogant.

And while the argument will be that Google has not violated the user’s privacy legally, neither did Beacon. Both technologies are early forays into the value of gestural data, about which readers might want to look with suspicion at those who say they don’t understand what I’ve been talking about for several years. Microsoft gets it, and they’re putting their software where your gestures are. And the one who levels with its users will trump the alleged benefits of a manufactured change agent. Get it together Google, the whole world is watching".

You bet they are.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Microsoft Flickr Live

Microsoft Flickr Live
Originally uploaded by dr_lopbot
Exclusive leaked artwork for the MS rebranding of Flickr. May be we shouldn't give them ideas. But this may be bad news for Flickr in the long term. Now where is the guarantee that my account will be open in 2010? Or will it change like Egg is doing with credit cards in the UK?

Chaos on the streets of N'Djamena

Fascinating, courageous footage from people caught in the Hotel Merdian near the Presidential Palace figh in Chadian capital.

All out fighting between Chadian rebels and government troops began early this morning in the capital of Chad, N'Djamena. As our team left Eastern Chad three days ago, humanitarian aid workers were being evacuated from the camps where our friends Adam, Yakoub, Darsalam, Selma, Aziza, and Saleh are now without regular services. Since, flights have been cancelled in both Eastern Chad and now out of N'Djamena.

Our field team is currently safe in the capital, but felt heavy fire this afternoon.

Here is a glimpse from Gabriel, "It was a close call. Bullets flew over our heads and parts of the walls and objects around us came raining down on us. We were already lying on the ground because the attack on the hotel and started to a few minutes before"

"The shots broke through the lobby glass and in to the bar, with heavy shooting in return from the French Soldiers positioned around the hotel. Katie-Jay and I crawled towards the low wall to feel more protected, but it just did not feel safe, to tell you the truth. As I crawled, I touched a small metal object that was burning hot, a bullet that had just ricocheted around the room. I have a little souvenir to remind me of the excitement."
There is hope that they might get to head to a French military base tonight, otherwise they will continue to wait at the hotel until they can fly out. They have all expressed that the hotel isn't safe for another night and that the UN and French are evacuating their people from the hotel.

We urge everyone to click on the two links provided here. One is for the US Senators and the other is for the House of Representatives. Please ask both the senators and the representatives that you contact to put pressure on the Department of State. They have promised to help get the team protection but please continue to contact the congressmen asking them to follow through until they are in safe hands.

Click here for Senators: on/senators_cfm.cfm

Click here for Representatives: l

Gabriel and Katie-Jay have both posted about what they have been experiencing through their blogs on There are also videos of the city under fire and the current attacks, so please still stay connected with them.

I think it is important that we remember our friends that are in the camps without protection in a time like this. It takes us all a bit closer to what it's like to live in fear without help on in the way. Lets all work together to get our ground team home, then harder than ever for the refugees because this is their reality everyday. is a global, all-volunteer, member-governed, online social network (in combination with real-world locations) that is made up of social entrepreneurs, activists, artists, social purpose enterprises, grassroots nonprofit, non-governmental, and community-based organizations, and is collaborating and taking action locally, nationally & globally, in order to make the world a better place.

New Travel Restrictions on Batteries

Effective January 1, 2008, if you travelling to or within the US on airlines, you may not pack spare lithium batteries in your checked baggage – that is, the baggage you give to the airline for handling.

Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power, such as a video camera. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries. You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage.

You may pack spare lithium batteries in carry-on baggage!

For personal use, there is generally no restriction on the number of spare batteries allowed in carry-on baggage. That includes cell phone batteries, “hearing aid” button cells, and AA/AAA batteries available in retail stores, as well as almost all standard laptop computer batteries. However, you may carry no more than two larger batteries, in the range of 100 – 300 watt hour rating. These include some extended life laptop computer batteries, such as the “universal” lithium ion battery pictured below.

Rules for larger batteries (these apply for all larger batteries, whether spare or installed, in either carry-on or checked baggage):
Larger lithium metal batteries have over 2 grams of lithium. You may not carry any of these. These larger lithium metal batteries are not used in consumer devices.

Those battery details in full

Commercial TV and Public Service

Not often you see information "in the public interest" on US commercial TV channels. Broadcast Engineering reports that FCC commissioner Michael Copps last week called for the crafting of a new definition of public interest for the 21st century to breathe “new life” into the obligation of broadcasters to serve the interest of their local communities.

Copps offered his remarks on Jan. 24 to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., on the same day the foundation released results of a study that found broadcast and cable stations on average donated 17 seconds per hour to public service announcements — or one-half of 1 percent of all TV airtime. The Kaiser Foundation is well-known in supporting health awareness projects both at home in the US and around the world.

“It’s time to tell broadcasters what we expect to receive in return for their free and exclusive use of the public airwaves,” Copps said.

While acknowledging and praising those broadcasters who still take their obligation to serve the public interest seriously, Copps told his audience that broadcasters increasingly are becoming captive to serving the interests of Wall Street and Madison Avenue at the expense of serving the public interest.

Although many run public service announcements and provide “the kind of local news and information that is what the public interest must be primarily about,” Copps said there needs to be greater accountability on the part of broadcasters when it comes to meeting their public interest obligations.

That will require “an honest-to-goodness licensing process at the FCC,” he said. “It is time to greatly shorten the license period and to make sure everyone understands that serving the public interest means specific public interest guidelines, obligations and accountability,” he said.

Although the commission’s Localism Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released in December 2007 didn’t go far enough in the view of Copps, it opens an opportunity to lay the groundwork for “some real public interest protections in the hopefully not-to-distant future.”

“The time is coming in our country, I believe, when the hopes of millions of Americans for an end to the media madness of the past quarter century can be vindicated and when real honest-to-goodness public interest considerations can begin, at long last, to set the direction of our broadcast media,” he said.

Friday, February 01, 2008

citizenM Hotel - Schiphol

Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Apparently this hotel chain is building its first hotel in Schiphol with more to follow in London, Barcelona, Glasgow, Berlin, Stockholm, Brussels, Milan, Copenhagen, Moscow, Paris, Istanbul, Warsaw, and Budapest to name a few. The website says, when the first hotel opens, it will be a place where luxury and budget sleep together in one big bed. A hotel with rooms you can customize. It looks like the rooms will be out of the ordinary - not sure the beds will last long if the clients take to jumping on them as in the movie. But I welcome any initiative to kill the routine in hotel rooms.

Movenpick opened a hotel on the banks of the Ij river in Amsterdam and none of the conference rooms have any natural daylight - horrible.

I will certain go along to the citizenM opening and report back. But first they have to finish the place.