links for 2009-06-13

links for 2009-06-12

  • more mobile development resources
  • Device detection is the first step in performing content adaptation. Here we cover lightweight device detection using classic ASP (VBScript). It is a simple script which will detect most mobile browsers. However, if you need more information about the properties of the device such as screen width and height, image format support etc. so that you can tailor your content to specific devices, then you need something more than this. In this case you should consider using a full device properties database such as DeviceAtlas.

    This script attempts to match the requesting UA string against about 90 well-known mobile browser UA string snippets, and a couple of special cases. It also checks some of the other HTTP headers for hints that the client is mobile.

    If you simply need to decide if the client is a mobile or desktop browser, then this script is for you! If you need to know more about a requesting device, try DeviceAtlas. Improvements and suggestions are very welcome.

  • With new advances in hardware like the iPhone and other web-enabled phones (aren't they all these days?) it is becoming more and more crucial to offer mobile-friendly versions of your websites. You have pretty much two options here: assume that website visitors will get what they need from their sub-standard mobile browsers if they want it bad enough, or make it easier for them to access your website.

    The advantages with this last option are clear. Just like any website, the easier the user can access the information, the better your results will be. In a world where competition is increasing all the time, this is especially vital. You want to make sure they get your message clearly and easily.

  • Many retailers, including Amazon, offer mobile specific URL’s using established mobile “standards”, such as:

    • m.amazon.com
    • amazon.mobi

    However, most users by habit and convenience, simply type in the name of the .com site in their browser, such as www.amazon.com, or simply amazon.com.

    If you want customers to easily find your mobile site, then you want to automatically detect mobile traffic on your main site and present a mobile experience by default– as Amazon does.

    Today, odds are, if you are like all the sites we have worked with, you already are receiving mobile traffic. But with no mobile support, and no automatic mobile device detection, you’re effectively displaying a ‘Closed for Business’ sign and potentially driving your customers to competitors.

links for 2009-06-11

  • “It seems like the ones who orchestrated the whole mess should be losing their jobs or getting pushed into smaller quarters,” Richtmyer wrote on May 28. “But they aren’t.”

    McClatchy, like countless other newspaper publishers, happens to be a member of the AP’s newsgathering cooperative. Had the comment been uttered in real life, it likely would have dissipated into the rank air of a Philly journo bar. But Richtmyer had some 51 AP colleagues as Facebook friends. The reporter was given a firm talking-to by AP management, who put a reprimand letter in his employment file.

    Paul Colford, AP spokesman, said that “guidance offered to AP staff is that participation on Twitter and Facebook must conform with AP’s News Values and Principles.” That ethics policy says writers “must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum.”

  • Watch this video, and while you’re doing it, substitute Best Buy’s products for news and it’s brand/stores with a news organization. Everything Best Buy CMO Barry Judge talks about Best Buy doing this or that, think about how a news organization can do or think similarly.
  • If you're gonna use Facebook for community building, these are great basic tips for making the most of your fan page and building community. Intended for businesses, but could work for nonprofits and media orgs too.
  • Bunch, 50, is a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News and — perhaps more prominently — the Attytood blogger who stirred a nationwide controversy when he criticized his bosses and colleagues for hiring former Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo to write regular columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He did more than criticize the Inquirer; he urged readers to demand Yoo's removal from the paper's op-ed pages.

    "People should write the Inquirer … or call the newspaper and tell them that torture advocates are not the kind of human beings who belong regularly on a newspaper editorial page, officially sanctioned," Bunch wrote in early May. Attention from media and liberal blogs from around the nation ensued; Bunch ended up debating this issue with his top boss, publisher Brian Tierney, on WHYY.

    Conflicts with the boss make most people nervous, but Bunch saw the dustup as a matter of principle.

  • "A cell phone that never needs recharging might sound too good to be true, but Nokia says it's developing technology that could draw enough power from ambient radio waves to keep a cell-phone handset topped up. Ambient electromagnetic radiation–emitted from Wi-Fi transmitters, cell-phone antennas, TV masts, and other sources–could be converted into enough electrical current to keep a battery topped up, says Markku Rouvala, a researcher from the Nokia Research Centre, in Cambridge, U.K."
  • "A sharp-eyed reader e-mailed us and asked us to consider adding a promise about signing statements to our Obameter database.

    "After taking office, President Obama issued a memo outlining the principles he would consider when issuing signing statements. Among other things, he said he would alert Congress to constitutional issues early enough so that legislation could be crafted to avoid a signing statement and that he would strive to find laws constitutional unless he has a "well-founded" reason for believing otherwise.

    Two days later, Obama issued a signing statement for the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, a spending bill left over from the previous year. Obama objected to five aspects of the bill, including several that had to do with the execution of foreign policy. But one of his exceptions drew the ire of Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa…"

  • "There are no paradoxes.

    "This is the overarching rule, to which all other rules are subservient. It’s not a statement about physics; it’s simply a statement about logic. In the actual world, true paradoxes — events requiring decidable propositions to be simultaneously true and false — do not occur. Anything that looks like it would be a paradox if it happened indicates either that it won’t happen, or our understanding of the laws of nature is incomplete. Whatever laws of nature the builder of fictional worlds decides to abide by, they must not allow for true paradoxes."

    (tags: scifi analysis)

links for 2009-06-10

links for 2009-06-09

  • As far as news is concerned, with this kind of momentum for mobile delivery, the race (if there ever was one) between smartphones and e-readers may well be over. Sure, e-paper is a superior interface, but smartphones win, because they can do 10, 20 or 100 things besides letting you read black-and-white print.

    One implication of the small screen, when it comes to news: we may be less inclined to work hard for news by searching, surfing and visiting aggregators, and more inclined to let the news come to us, by whatever means. The challenge, then, for publishers, may be to create apps that deliver custom-tailored news to fit preferences and interests of phone users. As a start, they should follow Amy Gahran’s suggestions on checking how mobile-friendly their current sites are.

  • General managers say u local abets a larger strategy of boosting Web traffic, which makes it a more attractive buy for marketers. Some will also be drawn to sponsorship centered on certain events, such as a high school graduation. “I can see specific applications that [advertisers] would want to be associated with,” says WMUR Creative Services Director Alex Jasiukowicz.

    Hearst-Argyle Director of Digital Media Jacques Natz says the connectivity u local fosters between station and viewer might also work between station and advertiser. “At some point, it can branch beyond news,” he says. “It's a tool that marketing and sales can use, too.”

    GMs say u local is an effective way to not only give viewers a peek into the station, but give them a voice in the proceedings as well. WCVB Boston President/General Manager Bill Fine says he'll hear from viewers quickly—and in large numbers—about something they liked or took issue with on-air.

  • Last week we looked at the emerging world of real-time cellphone data, via the projects of the MIT SENSEeable City Lab. This lab has been producing interesting analysis and visualizations of cellphone data in urban centers, a.k.a. "digital footprints." We also spoke to Andrea Vaccari, a research associate at SENSEable City Lab, about a project as yet unpublished on their website. This project analyzed the economic impact from tourists, via cellphone data, of a huge art project the city of New York helped sponsor in 2008: four man-made waterfalls hosted around NYC from June to October.

links for 2009-06-08

  • "How I'm using data from Google Trends to generate content for my news website that gets thousands of hit per day."
  • "Siftables are cookie-sized computers with motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display, and wireless communication. They act in concert to form a single interface: users physically manipulate them – piling, grouping, sorting – to interact with digital information and media. Siftables provides a new platform on which to implement tangible, visual and mobile applications."
  • Jeff Jarvis: "I think that the new unit of journalism needs to be the topic. Newspaper sites do have topic pages, but they are usually just lists of their own headlines and sometimes others', intended to serve not only readers but Google's search engine optimisation.

    "Those topic pages are still inadequate. I want a page, a site, a something that is created, curated, edited and discussed. It will include articles. But it's also a blog that treats a topic as an ongoing and cumulative process of learning, digging, correcting, asking, answering. It's a wiki that keeps a snapshot of the latest knowledge and background. It's an aggregator that provides curated and annotated links to experts, coverage from elsewhere, a mix of opinion and source material. Finally, it's a discussion that doesn't just blather but tries to add value. It's collaborative and distributed and open but organised."

  • Jeff Jarvis: "Imagine a team of reporters – together with witnesses on the scene – able to contribute photos and news to the same Wave (formerly known as a story or a page). One can write up what is known; a witness can add facts from the scene and photos; an editor or reader can ask questions. And it is all contained under a single address – a permalink for the story – that is constantly updated from a collaborative team."
  • here’s the problem: journalism’s myth of perfection. And it’s not just journalism that holds this myth. It is the byproduct of the means and requirements of mass production: If you have just one chance to put out a product and it has to serve everyone the same, you come to believe it’s perfect because it has to be, whether that product is a car (we are the experts, we took six years to tool up, it damned well better be perfect) or government (where, I’m learning, employees have a phobic fear of mistakes – because citizens and journalists will jump on them) or newspapers (we package the world each day in a box with a bow on it – you’re welcome).
  • Michael Arrington on NYT article about Techcrunch: "The other money quote from Damon is also misleading and was taken out of context:

    "That drive to compete with the so-called mainstream media is what’s behind his strategy. He doesn’t have the luxury of a large staff to confirm everything, so he competes where he has the advantage. “Getting it right is expensive,” he says. “Getting it first is cheap.”

    "…Note the break between “Getting it right is expensive” and “Getting it first is cheap.” The break is there because there were paragraphs of dialog between them.

    "…The real story is what I said between those two sentence fragments, and it’s that stuff that makes all the difference. I talked to Damon about how stories evolve on our blog. How it can start with a rumor, which we may post if we find it credible and/or it’s being so widely circulated that the fact of the rumor’s existence is newsworthy in itself. But then we evolve a post to get to the truth."

links for 2009-06-07

  • "In dozens of laboratories, these researchers are folding DNA into complex shapes, experimenting with molecular origami like apprentices learning to pleat their first paper swans.

    "It seems playful, but it's a serious pursuit. Taking advantage of DNA's ability to assemble itself in predictable ways, researchers are toying with devices on an atomic scale that can build themselves from scratch and then replicate for as long as there are raw materials. "This is a different kind of chemistry," says bioengineer Erik Winfree at the California Institute of Technology. Still in its infancy, it promises to one day make the molecular machinery of life into a factory production line."

  • Chart: "Google Wave was big but waning; Bing may have more staying power; Google Squared was a blip (but it’ll be back) and the Palm Pre marches on."
  • "I think I'll remember last week as the moment when I finally knew, with a certainty approaching fatigue, that the newspaper industry – the business and passion that both shaped and warped me over the past 20 years – had chosen ritual suicide. The choice appears grimly reached and irrevocable."
  • Google Map of a Boulder bike ride generated automatically from the iPhone app MotionX-GPS
  • very cool geo iphone app, I'm trying it out.
  • "According to the Twitter blog, there will be a special seal on any account that is verified by Twitter as being authentic. This seal, which you can see in the image above, will appear at the top right of profile pages. This is targeted toward public officials, public agencies, athletes, and other high-profile individuals.

    "As to how actual verification will work, it seems that Twitter will look to see if an official channel of the person in question links to his or her Twitter account from a place like an official website. This is a perfectly logical way to verify accounts, in our opinion. Details are scarce on the full plan, though.

    "The Verified Accounts program will begin as an experiment this summer and will expand as Twitter gets more feedback. We’re glad to finally see a system in place that will hopefully put an end to impersonators and expensive lawsuits.

  • Doyle Albee is using this, sounds cool

    "Sprint is launching the Novatel MiFi 2200 personal hotspot on its network. If you're not familiar with this product that other carriers already use, it connects to Sprint's 3G network and turns it into a local WiFi bubble of around 30 foot around you. It runs on battery and can last a theoretical 5 hours in active mode and 40 hours in standby mode. It is still a 3G wireless connection, so don't expect multi Mbps speeds, but still, it's convenient.

    "The price of the device is $100 (after a $50 rebate and a 2-yr plan). Sprint has two monthly plans that go for $60/mo (data only) or $150/mo "simple everything plan" (voice+data). don't forget that there's a monthly 5GB cap."

links for 2009-06-06

  • Usually synonymous with mass production, the quick response (QR) bar code was originally created by Japanese company Denso-Wave to keep inventory. However, because QR codes allow for more data than the standard 10-digit bar code, and because scanning requires less effort than typing a URL, the QR has taken a turn for the personal. The genius behind QR codes is that even a hairless chimp can play with them. Below are five of my favorite uses:
  • Changing your Mac to Dvorak in Software
    These instructions apply to Mac OS X version 10.4 a.k.a. "Tiger"

    Earlier versions (and likely later versions) of Mac OS X are similar; you can also change layouts in Mac OS 9 via the Keyboard control panel.

  • Best explanation I've heard yet of why Google Wave could be significant and useful. Yesterday I was trying to coordinate several phone meetings. One such effort, involving 4 people at the client org (even though only 2 would be on the call) took a total of 22 e-mails. Enough!!!! Better tools!
  • "ViewPass, a plan for a system that would allow easy payment by consumers across multiple platforms and extensive collection of data that would allow publishers to target advertising based on that visitor’s interests.

    "Mutter proposes ViewPass as a way to “access valuable content on the websites and mobile platforms of all participating publishers.” While I have concerns about all paid-content approaches (I made the Freudian typo “pain-content” in a tweet last night), and about the industry’s unhealthy focus on such a misguided approach, I concede that charging for high-value content might work in some niches."

  • Thursday, Trilliant, a smart grid network builder, acquired Skypilot, a broadband wireless company that used to specialize in long-range, high-capacity WiFi for rural areas and cities.

    “The unique technology in Skypilot was helpful in the municipal WiFi market but maybe not determinative,” said Eric Miller, senior VP at Trilliant. “But you take that technology and move into the utility market, and it’s a breakthrough technology.”

    The acquisition follows a move by another former municipal WiFi player, Tropos, into smart grid networking. This month, Cisco started talking big about energy, too. It’s a natural area for these companies to expand their businesses because the smart grid is fundamentally about about networking the pieces of the energy system.

    “Historically, power supply infrastructure has been created to serve load as a passive element of the system,” a Department of Energy report noted.

    In other words, right now the grid is just a bunch of wires.

  • "To rise from the ashes, automakers must think like Silicon Valley — blow up “stores” in favor of experience centers. Let people buy what they want, when they want and how they want.

    "What would a car industry without dealerships look like? In our dreams, they’d be a lean network of showrooms offering hands-on experience with a range of vehicles from a variety of manufacturers — as we already can find at used car lots — and help from salaried employees who won’t lose a commission if you walk. Manufacturers would only make cars that had waiting buyers, eliminating the waste associated with inventory and overproduction.

    “It could be almost like an Apple store, and Sony in particular has stores where you can experience their products,” speculated Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com, which provides information about new and used cars."

  • "The price point of $50-$60 for an annual subscription was an arbitrary choice, Brill said, and would depend on how much and what kind of content was put behind a pay wall. Journalism Online is also arguing that newspapers can reduce the cost of acquiring new subscribers by offering bundled subscriptions to their print editions and websites, just like The Wall Street Journal, where Crovitz was formerly publisher. (In fact, there are a lot of similarities between their plan and the Journal’s current model.)"
  • "Nielsen Online, which measures web traffic, said the number of minutes on social networks in the United States rose 83 percent in April from the same month a year ago, but found users were quick to move on and sites could quickly fall from favor."
  • Over the weekend, however, the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News blog noticed that the document had appeared on the website of the Government Printing Office and quickly grabbed a copy, hosting it on their server. Although the original has been pulled from the government's site, these sorts of errors have become irreversible in the Internet era—the FAS' document is now mirrored on Wikileaks.
  • Here's Bridis' explanation of the new application AP plans to deploy.

    "What we're doing is employing some technology, and the technology is not going to be looking for a paragraph," he disclosed. "The technology is going to be looking for the entire story that gets republished somewhere, and at that point it flags it. It doesn't do anything in an automated way, it's going to flag it for a lawyer or a paralegal to look at, and make a judgment on 'Well, is this OK? Is this a one-time offense?'"

    OK. "Entire stories"—that's the problem?

    "There are commercial websites, not even bloggers, necessarily," Bridis added, "that take some of our best AP stories, and rewrite them with a word or two here, and say 'the Associated Press has reported, the AP said, the AP said.' That's not fair. We pay our reporters. We set up the bureaus that are very expensive to run, and if they want to report what the AP is reporting they either need to buy the service or they need to staff their own bureaus."

  • Local Motors will design, manufacture, and bring to market innovative, safer, more functional, lightweight, efficient cars through a revolutionary, local assembly and retail experience. These cars will revolutionize not only automobiles, but also the very structure of auto-making, auto-selling, and auto-servicing.

    * In auto-making, Local Motors will build low inventory, high cash conversion, low capital intensity assembly facilities distributed across the United States, which will bring satisfying and meaningful manufacturing employment in a pleasurable life-work experience.
    * In auto-selling, Local Motors will create an aspirational experience of scarcity driven demand whereby the local factory will create a Wonka-like fascination with its products and methods. Not only will it sell its cars, but it will sell the experience of people being able to visit and watch their car being "born".

links for 2009-06-05

  • "TOSBack keeps an eye on 44 website policies. Every time one of them changes, you'll see an update here."
  • "EmanciPay is a new business model for media: one by which readers, listeners and viewers can quickly and easily pay for the goods they use — on their own terms, and not just those of suppliers' arcane systems. The idea is to build a new marketplace for media — one where supply and demand can relate, converse and transact business on mutually beneficial terms, rather than only on terms provided by thousands of different silo'd systems, each serving to hold the customer captive, and causing much inconvenience and friction in the process. EmanciPay is a breed of VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management. VRM is the reciprocal of CRM or Customer Relationship Management. VRM provides customers with tools for engaging with vendors in ways that work for both parties. EmanciPay is one of those tools. Or a set of them."
  • "Peter Kafka reports this from the D7 conference today (over a Wall Street Journal AllThingsDigital blog):

    Time for some polls! No surprise: People like to read newspapers online. Also no surprise: But people don’t pay for it. Somewhat of a surprise: People say that they are willing to pay for some kind of news.

    My boldface.

    I conduct similar audience polls often, though my subject is usually public radio. “How many people here listen to public radio?” Nearly all hands go up. “How many of you pay for it?” About 10% stay up. “How many would pay for it if it were real easy?” More hands go up. “How many would pay if stations would stopped begging for money with fund drives?” Many more hands go up, enthusiastically.

    So the market is there. The question is how to tap it.

  • "Like teenage girls who only go to the bathroom in groups, insecure newspaper publishers are willing to contemplate the terrifying leap into a paid content model, but only if they're assured they won't be alone."
  • "Executive recruiters likely do not swarm the industry for talent; certainly not in the same way they've gone after leaders at companies such as General Electric, Wells Fargo Bank or Microsoft over the years. Indeed, the June issue of Fast Company, a very sharp tech and business publication, features a cover story on "The 100 Most Creative People in Business."

    Perhaps I missed it but I don't think I saw a single newspaper executive mentioned.

    Why not? Now, more than ever, is a time for creativity and nerve, not just hunkering down and crossing fingers that safe harbor will appear on the horizon. It's a wonderful and important product, vital to American communities. Unlike a lot of jobs, you can look yourself in the mirror and know you're doing some good. Many newsrooms remain filled with a sense of mission even amid the looming dread.

  • "Warren likens the Rosemont newspaper exec confab to the Yalta conference or, perhaps, the infamous 1957 mob summit in Apalachin, N.Y. But if the news honchos aren't very, very careful, the more apt analogy may be a 1994 meeting in a Hawaii hotel room at which representatives of agricultural-products giants gathered under the guise of a trade-association meeting to fix prices for a chemical called lysine—a story that ended up with federal criminal convictions and Archer Daniels Midland and others paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines (not to mention a movie starring Matt Damon).

    "Antitrust law is complicated, but one principle is very simple: Competitors cannot get together and agree on price or the terms on which they will offer their services to their customers. It doesn't matter if the industry is ailing or if collusion would be "good" for society or necessary to preserve democracy. An agreement regarding pricing is "per se"—automatically—illegal."

  • Latest on the development of a very intriguing new media mobile device in development
  • Demo of Google Wave, supposedly blending e-mail, social media, other functionality into new communication/conversation platform. I need to watch this….
  • "Dave Taylor has a philosophy that wraps it up in a simple way — "Give with no thought of what you'll get in return." Not only is that the motto of his business, but of his life as well." Turns out to be one hell of a business model 🙂
  • "When asked which types of LBS they would prefer to use if they were available or knew how to use them, we saw some interesting results, particularly appealing for advertisers. It turns out that consumers are also interested in getting local alerts and special offers or promotions from nearby stores or other retailers. This presents an opportunity for advertisers to reap the rewards by serving up compelling and relevant ads that will likely see higher clickthrough rates and subsequent engagement. Also, ROI from these types of promotions would be easier to measure as the benefits are more immediate and trackable to a specific customer interaction than many other forms of advertising."
  • "According to a new report from web analytics firm Compete, 1 in 3 smartphone users use a location based service at least once a month. Weather and navigation apps are currently the most popular location based services, followed by apps that provide store locations, movie showtimes, and local news. Interestingly, there also seem to be a number of highly underserved markets. According to Compete's research, users also want to be able to receive local alerts about topics like traffic jams and gas sales.

    "According to Compete, smartphone owners who use location based services are also likely to have a higher monthly cell phone bill ($75-$125) than users who don't use these services. Chances are, though, that these users also tend to have data plans, so these numbers are not exactly surprising."

links for 2009-06-03