Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Go Mobile already with the Mobility Online Expo

On Thursday the 27th, early in the morning (8am) on the West coast I'll be speaking on PC Magazine's online trade show, the Mobility Technology Online Expo. There will be a cast of other experts and characters speaking on how you can achieve excellence in the latest in mobile computing and connectivity.

Topics include:
  • Portable computing devices, including Tablets, UMPCs, Notebooks and Handheld PCs
    Cutting-edge cell phones and PDAs, plus essential applications for them
  • Mobile software-as-a-service applications for online storage, field sales force automation, and more

  • Virtual/online telephony solutions such as hosted PBXs, e-faxing, and VoIP

  • Mobile VoIP solutions, including cell phones, plus VoIP services
    EVDO, EDGE, 802.11 and other wireless communications standards

  • Popular mobile applications for business use, including GPS and mobile browsing

So point your browsers to: and tune into our PowerPoint and audio cast!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dish and Archos Docked
Originally uploaded by gadget
As I said during my Dish to purchase Sling Media post it is going to be difficult for Echostar to make advances in technology, which empower consumers, when the media companies that they purchase their programming from try to lock down their content.

Only a dozen hours after purchasing the privately held Sling Media, Inc., Echostar announced that they are preparing a registration statement for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection for a spin-off that represents their technology and investments - like Sling Media, their Archos personal video player investment, and MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 set top box and DVR manufacturing.

This could prove to be an important move as the content and consumer side of the house can be separated, albeit with a dotted line, to these important technology innovations. Charlie Ergen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EchoStar comments "We believe separation of our consumer-based and wholesale businesses could unlock additional value. Each company would be able to separately pursue the strategies that best suit its respective long-term interests. The spin-off transaction would also allow employee incentives to be tied to their respective company's performance, and improve opportunities to effectively develop and finance expansion plans."

Keep pushing that envelope for the consumers Charlie! The days of popping a DVD in the home player, car player and a portable player need to be as old school as what MP3 has done for the music CD! Help us to "8-Track" that video format!

Echostar press release on their desire of spinning off their technology group.

DEMO fall 2007 with Chris Shipley

This week brings us the DEMO fall 2007 conference in San Diego. There are a hundreds of people comprised of VC's, PR folks and companies eager to display their technologies, and big companies who are eager to SEE new technologies - which must have never been released in order to launch at DEMO.

So far its off to a great start - my favorites are Motion DSP with a multi-frame video frame aggregator - to give high quality stills from video (spook/security agencies will love this.) Digital Fountain uses Amazon's S3 service to improve video quality from steaming sites. With much more to come.

Comanies presenting for DEMOfall 2007 are as follows:
360desktop, Pty Ltd.; Victoria, Australia; Advanta; Spring House, PA;
AgendiZe; Grapevine, TX;
Apprema, Inc.; Sunnyvale, CA;
Attendi, Inc.; New York, NY;
BatchBlue Software, LLC; Barrington, RI; CashView, Inc.; Palo Alto, CA;
Check Point Software Technologies, Ltd.; Redwood City, CA;
ClipBlast!; Agoura Hills, CA;
coComment; Geneva, Switzerland;
CodaSystem France S.A.; Paris, France; CornerWorld; Dallas, TX;
Digital Fountain; Fremont, CA;
Diigo, Inc.; Reno, NV;
DimDim, Inc.; Burlington, MA;
earthmine, Inc.; Berkeley, CA;
EncryptaKey; Cypress, CA;
Exalead, Inc.; New York, NY;
FastCall411, Inc.; Hollywood, CA;
Fluid Innovation, Inc.; Austin, TX;
Fusion-io; Salt Lake City, UT;
Generate, Inc.; Maynard, MA;
Glam Media; Brisbane, CA;
Global Communications, Inc.; Houston, TX; Global Mobile Technologies, LLP; San Francisco, CA;
Graspr, Inc.; Sunnyvale, CA;
iForem, Inc.; Redwood Shores, CA;
InstaColl; Bangalore, India;
Jasper Wireless; Sunnyvale, CA;
kannuu, Inc.; Dallas, TX;
LiveMocha, Inc.; Bellevue, WA;
LogMeIn, Inc.; Woburn, MA;
LongJump; Sunnyvale, CA;
matchmine, LLC; Needham, MA;
MetaRADAR, Inc.; San Bruno, CA;
mig33; Burlingame, CA;
MotionDSP, Inc.; San Mateo, CA;
mSpoke, Inc.; Pittsburgh, PA;
MuseStorm, Ltd.; Yahud, Israel;
Myndnet; East Palo Alto, CA;
Myxer; Deerfield Beach, FL;
Ncursion; Carlsbad, CA;
PeopleJam, Inc.; Los Angeles, CA;
Phreesia, Inc.; New York, NY;
PlanHQ; Wellington, New Zealand;
Prolify, Inc.; Waltham, MA;
Propel Software Corporation; San Jose, CA;
Proxure; San Luis Obispo, CA;
Pudding Media, Inc.; San Jose, CA;
Quire, Inc.; Mountain View, CA;
Qumranet; Santa Clara, CA;
Real Time Content, Ltd.; Ipswich, England;
RedSquare Ventures, Ltd.; Moscow, Russia;
RelevantMind, Corp.; Berkeley, CA;
SceneCaster; Richmond Hill, Canada;
SpaceTime; New York, NY;
spigit; Pleasanton, CA;
Sway, Inc.; Middleton, WI;
|Talari Networks, Inc.; Cupertino, CA;
Trovix; Mountain View, CA;
Truphone; London, England;
Tubes Networks, Inc.; Boston, MA;
Tungle Corporation; Montreal, Canada;
Vello; Mountain View, CA;
Vitarati, Inc.; San Luis Obispo, CA;
Vyro Games, Ltd.; Dublin, Ireland;
WMS Gaming; Waukegan, IL;
Your Truman Show, Inc.; San Francisco, CA;
Yuuguu, Ltd.; Manchester, England;

Fully Connected to USA
Originally uploaded by gadget
It's nice to see something that I helped with become a part of a bigger picture where it can grow and prosper. I was the Forward Thinker and Director of Product Innovation for Sling Media, helping to launch the second generation products and the initial video content recognition and rules engine behind the Clip+Sling portal.

The folks at Echostar, who market their satellite service as Dish Network, have agreed to purchase my former employer and the creators of the Slingbox for $380MM. This is an interesting purchase for them, even as an initial investor, as they may get some backlash from their premium content providers like HBO, ESPN and the like who feverishly fight to keep their content locked to as few devices as possible, unless additional revenue is pushed into their coffers.

Dish network is no stranger to network fights as it has dropped Viacom and CBS channels in 2004, Lifetime in 2005 and and Court TV in 2007 due to the networks attempts at rate hikes. The channels have gone "dark" but have each come back after their "we own the pipe to the consumer" tactic of negotiation. They also have been under attack from TiVo for not licensing the DVR technology while building their own around patents TiVo owns. This could also mean that TiVo, which is the peanut butter to Sling's chocolate, could stop promoting Slingboxes on its store and through its rewards shopping site. Sling's CEO Blake Krikorian has stated that "By combining strategies, resources and technologies with EchoStar, Sling Media will be able to rapidly expand our open multi-platform product offerings, not only for DISH Network subscribers, but for digital media enthusiasts around the globe." This means users will still be able to sling content from other providers, even DirecTV.

Echostar will be riding a double-edge sword while pushing the innovation envelope, giving consumers new ways to enjoy services that they subscribe to while convincing the media outlets that they purchase content from, that it is in every one's best interest to let consumers enjoy more content in more places. An interesting achilles heel to the network providers is that Dish does not provide the upstream bandwidth to "sling" content outside of the house, which providers may feel would break their carriage contracts. Dish partners with Wild Blue to provide its DSL Internet service, and StarBand for satellite Internet access which is a high-latency and slower service of the two that does not have the upstream bandwidth for an acceptable quality of service. Because of this, they could argue that the Slingbox makes a much more compelling in-house experience (something half of the initial customers surveyed said that they were using the hardware for) to a laptop or the upcoming Slingbox Catcher, than adding another satellite receiver and TV in the home.

I have always respected Charlie Ergen, who in 1980 sold C-Band "BUD's" or Big Ugly Dishes out of his car in rural Colorado, and dreamed of having his own satellites in space. In 1996 that dream came to a reality thanks to Ku-Band and MPEG-2 technologies. When we were building the Communication Expo stores, we merchandised his new Dish Network service against the Hughes funded DirecTV, and it is a true David meets Goliath story with Charley putting up a great fight against the big corporation. So kuddos to your team for seeing the innovation and strong leadership created by Blake, Jason, Bhupen and the engineering team and executed by John and his team. You have a multiple award winning technology that needs to thrive. Be proud of their 2007 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Creation of Non-Traditional Programs or Platforms! I am!

Echostar press release to Acquire Sling Media.
Sling Media's press release announcing the purchase by Echostar.
My good friend and former Sling co-worker Jeremy Toeman's take on the buyout.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Free VoIP on your home phone

Supura SPA-3000
Originally uploaded by gadget.
The Late Summer 2007 Alt Vehicles issue #11 of Make Magazine has a story that you'll love if you were a former customer of SunRocket. This how-to shows you what you need to get a Washington State phone number and terminate it on the Sipura device here, or any unlocked VoIP adapter, or software. By doing so you can then receive all the calls you want for free, or make toll-free calls with NO MONTHLY CHARGE. Nada, zip, zilch.

The caveat is that you cannot make calls to other home or mobile numbers, nor Skype for now. If you have broadband (duh) and need a phone line to authenticate your TiVo or satellite box, activate credit cards or give your parents a way to call you that doesn't use up your cell phone minutes, then this is the story for you!

Got broadband? Add phone service for $0/month:

Oh, if you get your friends on Free World Dialup and THEN you can call each other and get off of Ma Bell's back!

Originally uploaded by gadget
I wrote a story for Young Money Magazine, a print and online 'zine that hits over a hundred college campuses, about hardware gadgets that will let you watch YouTube on your living room television.

Devices like the Apple TV, NetGear EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD, iPhone, your typical 3G phone, and even the iPod with third party conversion software can watch videos on YouTube. These are all covered in the story...

Check out: Tech Lover’s Guide to YouTube On-Demand

The only irony here is that most college students don't have televisions... They watch YouTube on their laptops. Oh well, students; remember this story when you graduate! :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mercedes-Benz Search and Send is a very cool failure.

Mercedes-Benz Search and Send
Originally uploaded by gadget.
These guys were SO close with this innovative service that reminds me of the "send to phone" browser plug-in for Firefox. Close, however but no cigar. Look, I love the redesigned C-Class. MBZ did a great job capturing the essence of the expensive S in this platform that even I could maybe afford (like my old 90's E-Class.) My question is how could they release a GPS feature which requires a second step "pull" of the address by the owner seated in the car after the first action or the "push" from the desktop - which could come from the owner, an executive admin, or significant other who asks for an errand run.

Engineers frequently screw up the user experience - as proved with this image above showing the steps for the Mercedes-Benz Search and Send:
1. Search for the location you want to find on your laptop (good idea #1 - we do that today often)
2. Send the directions to your device (good idea #2 - we email stuff to people from the web)
3. Download at the touch of a button (really BAD idea - who thinks to dial a voice service to get the data that has already been sent via a PC?)
4. Directions pop up on the navigation system (great idea #3 - but a SMS text message could do that automatically today.)

Consumers are overwhelmed with electronics and you need to know that "multi-steps means multi-failure points" causing products to fail in the marketplace. Case in point: it was Apple who created a better ripping and purchasing software program, that we all know as iTunes, along with a playing device that auto-synced the player which won the battle of the portable players. They were not the first in the market - by a long shot, Apple just made the experience better.

Search and Send should not be the forgotten technology that it will soon become. I have seen my friend's Germany based Autobahn cruising Porsche factory audio system receive and send text messages - just by putting your SIM into the head-unit, even "way back" in 2003. The Search and Send feature of their summer 2007 vehicles should have the ability to receive this map destination information as a SMS based text message that is automatically queued within the cellular network and pops up on-screen once the car is turned on. This is technically a closed solution with the Mercedes-Benz Telematics system via a partnership with Yahoo Maps and Google Maps, so creating a parsed single or even multiple SMS (to get over the 160 character limitation) message system would have been trivial.

Very cool, nice try, but it's doomed to failure. There is always version 2.0 however.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

XBox 360 HDMI Cables
Originally uploaded by gadget
Update: Clearly I should be on the beach, not in front of my computer as this is merely an HDMI cable for the new HDMI equipped Xbox 360, not an adapter for the old one as I had "read into" it. Put down your credit cards and I promise to turn off my computer. :) From the "OMG its really about time and who knew it could do this anyway" department comes the HDMI cable accessory for our favorite aging white console, the original Xbox 360. Snuck out over the Labor Day holiday, with no press release, this $49 Xbox 360 HDMI cable plugs into the original video connector of the Xbox 360 to bring you left and right audio + optical audio and a female HDMI (also supporting audio) jack.

This means that you can avoid losing money by selling your original console on eBay to re-buy the console with the integrated HDMI jack, or the Elite XBox 360 in stylish black, which should, but does not contain an HD-DVD drive (but only a 120GB HD upgrade) and you can just limp along with your old console. That is until further upgraded (and nearly required in 2007) hardware gets placed within the 360, like a cooler CPU and HD DVD player.