Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Proliferation of Connectivity Part 1

Recently I had lunch with Michael and got to chat a bit about Gizmo and other VOIP stuff. I am also secretly coveting the about to be released Net Gear Wifi Phone. While waiting for it to come out I decided to take a peek at what else is in the market.

Although I use Skype a fair amount, I have a specific issue that I am sure is shared by some others. My laptop has the headphone attachment at the front of the keyboard. If that isn't enough of a deterrent, I also find that if I have headphones on that I am listening to music as a force of habit. What this means is that my ever ringing phone goes unanswered as long as I have the headset on. Because of that, I don't use headphones and also don't really use Skype as much as I would like.

My first look at what was available was USB connected phone devices, you know, kind of like a headset except it is a phone. I am not sure how that was going to help me. I decided to pass on this. I came across the Linksys CIT 200 Skype phone after digging around and thought that this was an interesting idea. This device allows you to connect a USB broadcast node to your PC or laptop that communicates with a wireless phone base station that can be anywhere within 150 feet or so. Although I don't really like the idea of another device connecting out to my laptop as an aftermarket part (it should be baked in) I was immediately attracted to the idea that I could now disembody a phone from my PC and use Skype.

A bit about the phone. It looks like a phone. I can dial numbers and such although I don't plan on doing that in the near term because I have these things called cell phones that I have on me at all times. At the bottom of the dialpad is a button that says Skype. When you pick up the phone and click on the icon, the device connects to your PC and Skype client and your buddy list is populated on your handset. How cool is that? You can then scroll down to the person that you want to call, click on them, and presto, free VOIP calling.

I haven't really taken the phone through a lot of uses so far but within the first day of setting it up, I spent 45 minutes or so talking to a potential hire from London and I have to say it was crystal clear. I wandered the office chatting like I was on a call except it was international and it was free.

I have to say that I am very fascinated by the idea that we are developing combinations of hardware and software platforms that not only allow us to do interesting things because of our connectivity but that we are increasingly able to proliferate or redistribute that connectivity in new ways. Although to say that I am becoming a Skype broadcast node for my office is a slight stretch, it isn't too far from the truth. In fact I have a couple of other examples of this proliferation of connectivity in two follow up posts to this one coming soon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Speaking at MIT today

I am speaking at a class today at MIT where I am giving a slightly modified version of this presentation that Shawn gave at BREW this past summer.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sprint Ambassador Program

I got the email today saying they want to send me another phone. I must say that I LOVED the last phone. It is amazing marketing for Sprint to reach out to bloggers and to get us to try out all the things you can on their devices and their service offering. I would recommend that other companies follow this kind of lead and to get outspoken people to try out and use their products.

Myspace Using UIevolution for Mobile

Josh pointed out this press release here that I haven't heard anyone talk about. Seems strange that nobody has covered this given all the noise around Myspace going mobile.

Eventful Raises $7.5 Million

Local friends and partners Eventful raised $7.5 million recently. Press release can be found here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rabble on Cellular South

Last week Rabble launched on Cellular South. That brings our current coverage to Verizon, Cingular, Metro PCS, Cricket, Verizon Puerto Rico and now Cellular South.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rabble Mention in Loopt launch article

I was interviewed last week for a TBD launch of another mobile social community, which turned out to be Loopt. The article is here and it included a nice screen shot of Rabble!


I missed the early / pre day at CTIA but am headed up on the train this AM. It should be a busy couple of days of meetings in my old hometown. I can't wait to hear what big announcements come out of this session.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Radiate / Flipt / Loopt launches

The LBS Mobile application formerly known as Radiate, then Flipt, now Loopt launched tonight on Boost's network. Details on the companies now unveiled website can be found here.

Valleywag Publishes Myspace Expose

Check out the story here. I don't think the story is a big surprise for anyone who knew the eUniverse story but the News Corp pursuit to silence the story makes for an interesting angle.

Facebook on Cingular

At the end of last week, I was looking around the deck on Cingular to see where things are categorized. While looking at the Media Net / WAP section I ran across Facebook. Facebook had previously launched their WAP site several months ago but this is fully baked into Cingular's deck. I will have to grab one of the youngsters in the office to login and check it out. I haven't heard any buzz about this which is pretty consistent with Facebook so far. On the mobile side I think Facebook has actually moved the ball forward more than Myspace to date without any of the publicity. It's good to see the category starting to develop. I predict that mobile social activity will be pretty frothy this fall.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Server Log Nuggets - Alexaholic

I had someone ask me the other day how we track our press clippings etc. Our PR firm does most of that and for cyberspaceyosphere stuff I use a combination of technorati,, and Google alert. Strange as it sounds though, it doesn't cover everything. One tried and true way to find some nuggets is to look at your server log for referrals.

While doing so this last week I saw some refers from a Seth Godin Alexaholic chart that you can see here. It is a really cool chart in that you can see all the various companies that are broadly lumped into the Web 2.0 category. We are included somewhere in the 600s. I have a prediction that we will be moving up in the chart shortly and in a big way. Hmmm...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

wget Music Goodness

Lifehacker had this great article about a week ago that allows you to use idle computer cycles to do a variety of tasks in the background. One of the suggested background activities was to download music from your favorite MP3 blogs. I spent some time last weekend digging into the mechanics. I installed wget on my PC and checked out one of my favorite MP3 blogs 3hive. I fired up wget and all of a sudden tons of files of music goodness began filling up my hard drive. Yummy.

I modified the site list to include 20 or so really good MP3 blog sites and set my machine off and running for the day. I came back later in the day and found somewhere around 500 tasty MP3 files that had survivied the editorial filter of some of the best music heads out there.

One of my frequent criticisms of most digital music companies was that there was an excessive focus on programming as the key ingredient. In reality, the key ingredient was and always has been content. Getting music is what people want to do, not read editorials. Editorials are for music heads. Sorry.

The beauty of using wget is that I get a ton of content, that I believe is generally legal, as I believe the tracks are almost all promotional tracks, that have passed a level of filtering by some great tastemakers. I haven't spent as much time as I would like with the tracks but I would say that immediately I ran into two amazing tracks. One was Cobrastyle by Teddybears and the other was an amazing mashup of an old track with new Hip Hop beats called Fever by Rhymefest.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Quien es mas macho? Windows Mobile or Symbian

I spent some time last week with the Cingular 8125 Windows mobile device. One of our handset developers has been raving about Windows mobile so I figured I should take it for a spin. I spent the better part of a week with the device and came to a couple of conclusions.

The 8125 is a computer that also has phone capability. It is not a phone that has smartphone capability. To me that is an important distinction as the device I carry around with me is preferably a phone in my case. What do I mean by that? Well the most important thing I do with my phone is call people. I also happen to use it to check email, occasionally surf the web, and sometimes use it as a modem. When I use my Symbian based phone, all the smartphone stuff is subordinate to the phone stuff. I have to dig to get to the power user features. I actually like this because my primary use case is phone.

The Windows mobile device is just like your desktop. The start button and everything is always resident in it's passive state. At first I thought that was really cool. The responsiveness was fairly good and the qwerty keyboard is roomy. I imported my 1500+ contacts into Outlook and set up my email. I was very excited. That was until I had to make a phone call. Aarrghh. No numeric pad. Also navigating in and out of the base OS was fairly clunky. At the end of the week. I reset the device to the factory settings and returned it to the development pile.

To summarize and to be fair, I followed up with Josh and asked him how he could be excited about Windows mobile. He stated that there are two distinct flavors of Windows mobile and that the 2125 smartphone has the operating system flavor that is more phonelike. I may pick one up in the coming weeks to revisit, but until then, I am very happy with my Symbian device and if I has to replace my device today it wouldn't be with the Windows smartphone I used.