:::renaissance chambara:::

Posts on quality, life, culture, the media, news & tech with a twist & a slice of Limey. I moved my blog to http://renaissancehambara.jp in December 2006, go there for the latest content.

Monday, October 31, 2005

 
Jargon Watch

X-Internet
- The executable internet according to Forrester Research CEO George Colony. Why call a hyped-up trend by its existing name when you can call it something different?

Roughly speaking X-Internet is Web 2.0; George is particularly interested in the way that it can be applied to enterprise applications and hypothesises in his think piece
My view: the Google future that AJAX and Google services will herald an age of enterprise applications funded by advertising.

The what it means section had some interesting takeouts:
  • Large corporations should take advantage of web 2.0 technologies including: Google Desktop Search, Google Toolbar, and Google Maps to help drive productivity
  • IT staff will learn to incorporate web 2.0 services and APIs into the corporate web. Bottom line upgrade your JavaScript skills to become an AJAX maven - VB programming skills and MSDN won't cut it
  • Microsoft will lose roughly half its profit margins as it tries to compete with advertising-funded software (web 2.0) from 25 per cent net to 13 per cent net margins
  • George writes off Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon as being stuck with old web 1.0 experiences
  • Enterprise software vendors will have to duke it out with AJAX enhanced web-based service providers like Salesforce.com over the next five years

George's points though interesting make a number of assumptions that may not be correct: Google is unchallengable
  • There was no mention of the contribution by the open source community
  • The article did not reconcile how the lower barriers to entry for start-ups afforded by web 2.0 would cope with a corporate enterprise environment that looks for eight-year support contracts and purchasing decisions that would take a year
  • He assumed that despite the low barriers to entry, other Internet players would not adopt web 2.0 technologies
  • There was no consideration of how web 2.0 would affect security and the complexity of some of the issues involved. Remember online marketplaces and how internet exchanges were going to affect the world - many of them were abandoned or had their goals severely trimmed in order to meet a revised definition of success

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

 


Halloween at DPMHI

The DPMHI shop in Great Pultney Street had a violence strewn mural on the back wall for Halloween. In stark black and white like Pacino's Scarface meets Raymond Chandler, it featured suited assassins descending from the skylights and gun club targets at eye-level.

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Crossing Swords

I've contributed an article about Palm's investment in Europe over at Palm Addicts. In the news this week Palm announced that it was opening a new development centre in Swords County Dublin (you can read about it here at the Palm Addicts blog), what does it mean for European Palm users?

What is surprising is that Palm has not made this move sooner, given the focus on the Treo range as the primary play for the future. With the exception of some notable exceptions like Italy the market for mobile phones is dominated by subsidised handsets provided by the carriers. Given that the carriers invest 100USD or more per user, they need to guarantee their return somehow by trying to improve the average revenue per user (ARPU). This means locking consumers in with tightly integrated services. Part of the reason why Nokia's crown slipped was because the company would not bend to the carriers will.

In the UK, five years ago the Nokia brand got bigger than the mobile phone company because of its legendary ease-of-use and iconic chocolate bar format. Club Nokia was the straw that broke the camels back threatening carriers ability to earn money from ringtones and wallpapers.

Vodafone suddenly dropped Nokia from its roster of handsets and took up with Japanese handsets by Sharp and Panasonic; the carriers learned their inherent power. The market has become more competitive for mobile phone devices. Most technology companies that we know are really marketing organisations. Their logistics are outsourced, their products are based on reference designs and sometimes the only cosmetic change is the badge on the front of the device. OEMs like HTC are no longer happy making for other manufacturers, but with Microsoft's assistance have started selling direct to the carriers. Mobile phone companies had the marketing savvy, they had a brand and they had distribution. T-Mobile and Orange pioneered this approach carrier-side.

Palm entered a market where it has had to dance with the carriers and the first few times it has got it wrong. The Orange implementation of the Treo 600 allegedly had some of its functionality curtailed to help sell 'push-to-talk' services. The implementation meant that Orange had lots of dissatisfied users and people like me went out and bought the carrier neutral version of the device instead, so Orange probably sold less services, not more like they would have expected.


Palm can't let this happen in the future. Europe has a level of mobile phone penetration is higher than the US, Europeans change their phones every 12 - 18 months rather than the 2 years or so for a Verizon customer in the US. Europe is rolling out UMTS / 3G services, but despite the hype there are no killer apps, partly because the handsets aren't great: so for Palm there is a real market opportunity. Even though Palm is a Microsoft licensee it will still be competing against established handset manufacturers like Motorola, HTC and Sagem. Microsoft's motives are further complicated because the company wants an end-to-end play. Telecoms back-end systems, transactions, service provision, media creation and playback, instant messaging, user experience, enterprise applications and information security all running on Microsoft platforms. Would they burn Palm to improve their overall interest? No question about it.

Look to the PC marketplace, Steve Jobs has said on numerous occasions there are two PC manufacturers making a profit - Dell and Apple. Other players stay in the marketplace for strategic reasons, but Microsoft makes money on each Windows box, whatever happens to the manufacturer.


Then there are aggressive Asian players like Siemens/BenQ, and is likely to be joined by Chinese newcomers like Haier or Ningbo Bird. Chinese manufacturers have a lot of work going into embedded Linux devices that are constantly improving. US manufacturer Danger, who make the Hip-Top devices had both Orange and T-Mobile as investors, the tight integration including storing user data like address books on the network and large screen suitable for multimedia makes it an interesting proposition.

Fellow Palm licensee Qool Labs have a fantastic Palm powered product that has not been distributed in the West. European handset manufacturers with entrenched relationships and brand equity like Sony Ericsson and Nokia are unlikely to lie down either. Indeed Nokia's 9X00 series and the E61 are exceptionally well-designed competitive devices. Palm needs to have an R&D / localisation facility close to the customer base filled with talented people.


Trying to do the carrier-specific development from Silicon Valley or Asia puts them on a different working day from the clientele, placing a strain on project management and close cooperative client working. It is not conducive to supplying the kind of carrier integration needed to supply large-scale orders that Palm needs in order to achieve critical mass in the market.

Palm's expansion of its Dublin logistics and operations site to include localisation is a statement of intent that they are now going to get serious about Europe, hopefully ensuring an even better user experience and favourable subsidies for Treo users.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

 

Superstylin'
Burro, the designers famous for the "Non alla violenza' t-shirts during the 1990 FIFA world cup and customising classic Sergio Tacchini tracksuit tops are closing their store in Covent Garden. According to the shop assistant, they will continue to provide clothes to other outlets like Urban Outfitters but were not going to have their own retail outlet any more. Still, their misfortune can you your gain with mens t-shirts going at 3 for 10GBP.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 
Trick or Treat!

Corporate Halloween shenanigans at Burger King and Wal-Mart. In what can be loosely described as an integrated marketing campaign Burger King is selling masks of two of its spokespeople. The chicken is from the sub man in a chicken suit site that spread virally what seems like a few years ago apparently to promote the Burger King reason d'etre of having it your way.

The bearded chap on the left is based on a character used to wake people up and offer them a non-Maccy D breakfast. BK have got a bit of static for allegedly trying to spoof a journalist with a 'viral marketing' campaign. On Slate.com Seth Stevens in his article The Burger King can't fool me outlines the full story.

It gave me a great idea on how to damage other people's campaigns - with similar handfisted attempts on their behalf.

Wal-Mart was found to have an unpleasant skeleton in its cupboard with a leaked memo specifying how they can hold down the costs of staff benefits (given that they can't outsource check-out operation to a third-world country). Of particular interest is that leaked memo does not dismiss indentured slavery or child kidnapping as options. Saying that, the only people who read about it would have the good sense to shop to already be Target shoppers anyway.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

 

Oprah Time


Frank Delaney's Ireland was one of the most enjoyable books that I have read in a long time. The book has been comparedto James Michener's books and Alex Haley's Roots - fiction based on history with more elemental truths in it than most non-fiction.

The book is complex and multi-layered, but easy-to-read. The story focuses on a young boy in a middle class household in rural Ireland during the 1950s and how his imagination and interest in the country's myth and history is fired by a traditional storyteller. His search for the storyteller unravels some of the elements of his own family story which people have sheltered from him.

The book accurately reflects the social environment of my parents Ireland. A rural-based community bound by morality, coming to terms with its fractured identity post-independence and oppressed by its own family secrets. It highlights the reasons why I used to get chastised as a child when I was willful or bold (and I wasn't actually that bad) with 'you'll disgrace us' or 'you'll disgrace the family name'.

The clash with modernity lives on in the small farms that I grew up on for much of my childhood. Electricity made it to my uncle's farm when I was a toddler and I can remember helping to foot the turf, drinking stewed tea and red lemonade along with a packed lunch as we worked in the bog, filling the high sided cart with sods of turf to be dragged home by a donkey and stored in a shed down the yard.

I was in primary school before they moved away the traditional cocks of hay to bales and sudden bounty of shiny nylon twine that tied the bales was a wonder material that held fittings, extended electric fences and acted as a temporary way of securing a gate to a post. The excitement of making silage with all the heavy machinery running around the place compensated for the eventual reduction in the nylon twine supply.

My only criticism is that the book portrays this rural life in a rosy way like the Famous Five books of Enid Blyton and her 'scones and lashings and lashings of ginger beer'. Whilst the upside of a closely knit community would have been more a sociable people that cars, a faster pace of life and commuting no longer facilitate. Life is hard and it requires commitment to get up and 'fodder' animals in the early hours of a winters morning, clear out stables, dig out potatoes out of a storage heap that's frozen over, pull in hay in the baking sun, dig a turf bank or repair ditches.

The Raleigh bicycle with one gear and a heavy frame that you could get in any colour so long as it was black was the standard mode of transport. They lasted forever, it would be common to see these rust covered scrap heaps parked up and then the owners come along jump and go. This was also the only way to get your shopping (or messages as it would be called). It had levers rather than brake cables with thick chromed steel rods and linkages running to both the front and the rear brake pads. That may mean a round trip of 14 - 20 miles with your shopping on a bike.

The only concession to modernity would be a seat protector - there would be a plastic fitted shower cap put on over the leather coil sprung seat so that when the owner came out to ride the bicycle away he would not have the discomfort of a wet bum.

Photograph by Jerry Bauer.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

 
Jargon Watch

Death by blog - According to James Burleigh in The Independent Ad guru blames bloggers for demise (October 22, 2005), this is the phrase that Neil French worldwide creative director of Ogilvy used to describe how outrage at his off-the-cuff remark at an entertainment-orientated speaking event for advertising industry people that all women in the advertising industry were crap came back to haunt him.

Anyone who had read French's op-ed column in Communications Arts, would have known the kind of boisterous personality to expect.

Nancy Vonk another Ogilvy employee is the woman who started off French's death by blog with this posting here on ihaveanidea.org. Whilst French may no longer be employed at Ogilvy, the lessons and values learned from his creative work will continue to inspire creatives to go against the grain.

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Jargon Watch

Blackberry Thumb - A swelling of the sheath around tendons in the thumb, road warriors are starting to require professional treatment from an orthopedist according to reports from Associated Press. Similar devices like Palm's Treo range, the Danger Sidekick and numerous copycat devices running Windows Pocket PC / CE / Mobile give similar injuries.

Gamers using console joypads have had similar injuries for years called 'Gamers Thumb'.
Does this mean that we will see a move back to Palm's Graffitti pen computing interface? Kudos to Wired News.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

 
Playground Return

Much of the music press this week have been praising the return of the Happy Mondays on the soundtrack to the Goal football film. Playground superstar features all the usual Monday's traits: Shaun Ryder being a working-class Alan Ginsberg on vocals with a shambolic sounding backing just about holding together behind him (with a bit more skill than they used to have).

As with the old Mondays' material the treat is in the remix. In this case the Redanka 4-4-2 mix is the one worth having.

Now for for the complaint - there is NO 12" vinyl. Noel Gallagher's Big Brother records needs to pull their finger out.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

 
Its all gone horribly Pete Tong

Nokia has gone after mobile phone purchasing women with its Lamour range. They seem to have made a classic mistake. Unlike Samsung and Motorola who have engineered small or slim phones to attract style conscious women,

Nokia has taken its inspiration from Portabello market with a mobile phone range that have received henna tattoos (or so it seems). Gasp in amazement at the chunkiness of the phones such as the 7370 pictured, be amazed by their superficially attractive designs. Hope that Nokia can do much better like it has with the 8800.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

Autumn Crawls In


The mild weather has meant that autumn has been slow in arriving. For the first time this morning I noticed that the Tredegar Square park was looking a bit seasonal (which is going to play hell with the continuity of the film or TV programme that they are currently shooting over there).

In order to completely shatter the magic of the season I thought I would link to this dry web page on the chemistry of autumn colours.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

 

When Online Marketing Attacks


Parker pens have done an interesting marketing tie-in, sponsoring AvantGo's Suduko channel. This promotes Parker pens to people with the disposable income on one side, and by all accounts is a bit of of Javascript tour-de-force.

On the other hand it encourages consumers to conduct an activity on a PDA or smartphone that they would otherwise be doing with a newspaper and pen.

Having commuted in over long journeys by train, I was aware that many more people read the newspaper than used electronic data devices.



A quick rundown in a carriage where two dozen people would have been visible to me:
The first two groups are work focused so point point in doing outreach
  • 1 or 2 laptop users
  • 1 or 2 Blackberry users

This lot would be leisure orientated
  • 4 people on the phone or playing mobile games
  • 6 people with a paper
  • 4 people with a book

Sponsoring a newspaper Suduko newspaper competition or giving away a free Suduko book with every pen bought would have been a better way to capture eyeballs and users for Parker pens than the AvantGo channel.

Kudos to PalmAddicts for the heads up on the Suduko channel.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

 

Jargon Watch


Boutique Graffitti
Originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.
Splog - A spam blog. Blogs offer an easy way to publish content including the creation of a virtual click-farm. I have started to notice some comment postings appearing on my blog linking to this kind of content.

More on the subject
here.

***UPDATE***

I have put word verification on to the comment section of the blog. Whilst I realise that its an inconvenience for people who want to say what they want to say, I am hoping that it will stop the automated spamming that seems to be occurring at the moment. We'll see...

 

On heavy rotation special (tune of the moment) - Tiger Stripes - Spirited Away


Tiger Stripes
Originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.
Tiger Stripes is a Swedish producer who hase come up with a blinding tech house track that has the potential to cross over like Aztec Mystic - Knights of the Jaguar. The similarities to the Underground Resistance classic don't stop there.

Spirited Away shares a similar kind of catchy string arrangement that propels the track along. Unusually the record is on Kerri Chandler's Nite Grooves label (out of the US) and fits in nicely with the rest of the label mates.

I would be very surprised if this doesn't get licenced soon to the likes of London Records, Defected or the Ministry of Sound's Data imprint for commercial distribution in the UK.


Get it while its still credible from independent record shops like Phonica Records on Poland Street.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

 
The truth your parents never told you: E numbers can be good for you

Nokia has just launched a range of business orientated phones, the one that has been getting the most interest is the E61. Think of a RIM device, but with a bit of class and you have the right idea. The E61 runs the Symbian operating system and provides a credible alternative to Palm's Treo family of devices.

Palm is rumoured to have a Symbian based Treo at an advanced stage of development, but it may be too little too late. The Nokia has a clearly laid out control panel and a good sized screen. It has 75MB of onboard memory, provision for mini-SD memory cards and supports the latest networks technologies including VoIP over WiFi, and WCDMA as well as all the major frequency bands for GSM handsets.

The E61 loses a bit on talk time and internal memory in comparison to the 9X00 series devices, but provides instant messaging capability for always-on communication.

I look forward to seeing whether Apple gets off its backside and develops some decent support for serious Nokia devices like the E series and the 9X00 series smart phones into iSync.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

 
It's the Mac Stupid

The new video iPod concealed another more important announcement the new iMac. The machine looks similar to the previous iMac but the devil is in the details. Key to the new is Front Row. This is remote control that has the same kind of simple design as the iPod Shuffle and allows users to control their music or videos from their own sofa. Its become a genuine home entertainment system, with none of the usage challenges of traditional VCRs. In addition, iTunes will start selling videos to video iPod owners AND iMac owners.

The video iPod looks more and more like a trojan horse to allow Apple to enter the video-on-demand marketplace. The 2,000 video library sounds more like an entertainment industry proof of concept than a serious initative, dipping their toe in the water.

Steve Jobs has repeatedly said that video is an immersive experience, how many people really watch TV on those little Casio get-ups, download videos on to PMPs or watch videos on their 3G handset? Sure people will buy them because they look cool in the shop, but they won't use them much in reality. The video iPod encourages customers to trade up to the latest thing, but the new iMac opens up the world of home entertainment to Apple.

 
On Heavy Rotation

Some old, some new - all analogue:
  • Various artists - Bad Acid album sampler - Music For Freaks
  • CharVoni - Always There - Syncopate
  • Square One - Criacao (Jimpsters Afro Dub) - Freerange
  • London Posse - Jump Around (remix) - Wordplay
  • Coyled Camp presents - Acid Jack - white label
  • Shades of Rhythm - Sounds of Eden (Raise the Roof remix) - ZTT
  • Paris Angels - All on You (Perfume) - Sheerjoy
  • Meat Beat Manifesto - Paradise Now
  • Mory Kante - Yeke Yeke (Martyn Young remix) - London Records
  • This Ain't Chicago - Ride the Rhythm re-edits - Parisonic
  • Robbie Rivera feat. Jesus Jones - Right Here - Nebula promo
  • Hijack - Daddy Rich - Rhyme Syndicate
  • S-Express - Superfly Guy - Rhythm King
  • Fire Island feat. Ricardo da Force - In the bones (mixes) - Boys Own Productions
  • Missie Elliot - (Ben Watt mixes) - white label
  • Various artists - Ibiza sampler - Pacha
  • Magik Johnson - Kingsland dubs volume 2 - NRK
  • Fleetwood Mac - Big Love (Arthur Baker remix) - Warner Bros
  • The Beloved - The Sun Rising (remix 12) - EastWest
  • Longsy D - This is ska (wiv an ickle bit of acid) - Warlock
  • Kamanchi Sly - Prodigal Son EP - Catalyst Recordings

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 
Too Connected

I remember one of my colleagues at the time coming back from media briefings explaining how then 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou had talked about becoming too connected. This was a number of years ago and at the time when the 3Com tag line was 'more connected'.

Benhamou was smart enough to see the implications of the Internet and wireless technologies and how they would impact on society.

I was reminded of Benhamou's comments by
this piece
on Computerworld.com that talks about how businesses are making the decision to go with wireless devices for some of the wrong reasons and is symptomatic of bad management techiniques or structures.

Picture courtesey of DHD Multimedia.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 
Night Watch

Stephen and myself finally got to see Night Watch, the first film in a trilogy of a Russian made fantasy battle between good and evil. The film has a very different aesthetic to other films, though you can see how comparisons will be drawn with The Matrix.

The film is thoughtfully put together and the CGI effects used are subtle rather than in your face Hollywood style. The acting performances are all well done.

The intelligence of the story will please the chattering classes of the art house fraternity, comic book fan boys will appreciate the subtle humour (like a boy who had been chased by vampires sitting down to watch Sarah Michelle Geller in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the great unwashed in the multiplexes and Blockbuster video stores will find the action enough to keep them interested until the next Vin Diesel film comes out.

When I wrote about the rise of creative industries outside western Europe and America last year, I missed out on the quality product coming out of Eastern Europe which was a mistake. I cannot wait to see part two in the trilogy 'Day Watch'.



Monday, October 10, 2005

 

Missing in Action


blackbunny5
Originally uploaded by ElisabethD.
Looks like Spin Bunny has annoyed someone again. The PR gossip website was legalled by an unnamed PR agency before and disappeared for a little while last year. For the past week or so the site has been unavailable yet again.

Any light that can be shed on the disappearance would be received with great interest.

 
Jargon Watch

Super Southerner - Someone from the North of England who has grown to appreciate the benefits of living in the South. Signs include:
  • Going back up North and repeatedly complaining about the weather
  • Boring Northern friends about how can't get decent (sushi/bagels/coffee etc) outside London
  • You will no longer speak to some random stranger on the tube who says hello
Source: Evening Standard (October 10, 2005 - page 21)





NRAM
- Non-volatile random access memory. The term was coined by Nantero, a company pioneering the use of carbon nano-tubes to make computer memory and integrated circuits.

The company is working with LSI Logic to commercialise their technology. It has immediate applications in space since it is resistant to cosmic radiation. Source: Nature Online (October 4, 2005 - Nano-tubes refine computer memory).

 
ROKR - Harsh Words

PRing tangible consumer gadget stuff is great, people can pick it up and play with it. They are more likely to 'get' what it does. Its not abstract or concept driven like web services or software applications.

So it is really unusual to wish that you weren't PRing a device, at worst it usually gets is media indifference.

The vehement reaction of Engadget readers to the offer of a free giveaway of a Motorola ROKR handset surprised me, not even poorly received products like the Palm IIIc or the Hewlett Packard HP-150 got that kind of reaction.

According to reviews across the web the device has a number of shortcomings:
  • You can't charge the battery while the phone is synching tracks
  • The device can only hold 100 tracks
  • It looks like an already well established Motorola model
  • Sync with iTunes is slow
  • It is harder to use than an iPod (but then what isn't?)

But its not all bad:
  • Speakers and headphones considered good
  • It is a competent cell phone
  • Price is reasonably competitive with a cell phone contract
  • It has an improved screen
Slate has got a good analysis of why the device has managed to provoke that kind of reaction.


Image courtesy of GSMArena.com

Sunday, October 09, 2005

 
















Stussy $-shock


Stussy have been celebrating their 25th anniversary with a range of reassuringly expensive items including a reissue of the Stussy branded Casio G-Shock watch. (Images courtesy of Stussy Store London).

 

Notting Hill Vinyl Exchange Economic Index

I ventured across town to Notting Hill and caught up with my friend Jonny Roberts pictured. I also used the time to dip into the famous Soul & Dance Exchange close to Notting Hill Gate tube station. The signs of an economic downturn were there for all to see. The shelves were well stocked with previously hard-to-find vinyl AND there had been extensive discounting.

In order to encourage a healthy stock turnover and find the market price of a record, the shop discounts pieces on a regular basis. The longer a record has been there the more prices are indicated on the label. The stock does not reflect record production but the need collectors have for immediate cash rather than selling on eBay or Amazon Marketplace. So demand and supply are out of kilter due to adverse economic conditions.

 
Oprah Time

I finally managed to finish Seymour Hersh's book Chain of Command. The book seems to be a well researched critical look at the realpolitik and decisions that have driven the war on terror. The book builds on research that Hirsch did for articles about the war on terror for The New Yorker magazine.

Hersh is not just a journalist or a writer but a major cultural figure. His work as a freelancer that exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam impacted as much on the public consciousness as Woodward and Bernstein.

Hersh however, managed to remain an outsider, while Woodward wrote the presidents story of 9/11 and beyond; Hersh was given the key to the naughty cupboard by sources that he had cultivated over the decades.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

 
Bubble Baby's Return

In his book Accidential Empires Bob Cringely talks about the way Silicon Valley had grown up around a small group of people (about four dozen personalities) who whatever you looked into kept showing up. I think I know what he means. Harry Blodgett was a former equity analyst who followed Internet stocks for Merrill Lynch.

Blodgett was cast out from the banking industry when the crash came; a sacrifice to atone for the sins of many more. He has now returned with a blog and a fledgling industry analyst firm.

Expect good things of Blodgett's writing, he has already contributed to the likes of Slate and the New York Times.

In the appropriately named Internet Outsider blog you can read Blodgett's musings here.

 

Grabbing a Tiger by its tail

Corsaire have published a downloadable white paper on making Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) more secure. Whilst Tiger is the most secure OS that you can get on default settings, there is more scope to prevent less risk.

Corsaire's white paper covers everything from setting password policies to securing the firmware and is a valuable resource for Mac users in a relatively easy-to-follow format with lots of screen grabs. After reading this there is no excuse for your Mac to be one hardcore mofo.

Kudos to Slashdot.org for pointing this one out

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

 

Classic Resurrected

Mathmos the trendy lighting people have seen sense and started selling their Telstar lava lamp again. The design which is classic 60's futurism in style was phased out by the company, leaving the more staid Astro to keep the flag flying. It was akin to Herman Miller deciding that they wanted to phase out the Aerion chair or Nestle deciding that they wanted to replace KitKat.

Monday, October 03, 2005

 
China Out in the Cold

The latest round of licences for developing Libya's oil and gas reserves have been split between the US and European interests. (registration required for washingtonpost.com)

This is in marked contrast the success that Asian energy companies like Sinopec have had elsewhere. The appointment of licences to Exxon, Statoil and Total is as much about Libya's desire to come in from the diplomatic cold as it is about business.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

 
Back Again, Back To The Future

Just a quick post, I found this article on the New York Times of Interest: On Television Brands Go From Props to Stars by Lorne Manly. In the article, Lorne writes how big corporate advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever are diverting their budgets away from tradition TV advertising into product placement. This allows them to weave their products tightly into the script, rather than just the blatant brand picture feature.

(A classic example of this is the involvement of Cisco in the latest series of 24 where the dialogue momentarily lapses into marketing speak about the companies intrusion detection offering - RC says buy Nokia security gear instead). This means that commercial television is going back to its roots of sponsored television and radio in the 1950s and earlier.

Reality TV is an ideal vehicle for this. It was interesting to note that one of the key reasons cited for this change is the need for TV companies to combat the increasing spend by large corporates on search engine marketing.

By the numbers:
  • For the 2004-2005 television season, more than 100,000 product placements appeared on the six US broadcast networks - Nielsen Media Research (NMR)
  • There was a 28 per cent increase in the number of product placements compared to the previous year (NMR)
  • The value of US TV product placements rose 46.4 per cent, to 1.88 billion USD - PQ Media.
  • US network CBS digitally embedded the logo of the Chevrolet Impala in the scenery of five of its shows, including CSI

No template or rate card exists for the kind of product placement deals taking place at the moment, ensuring that the specialists who dominate the sector can keep ahead of the media giants like Carat.

A final quote at the end indicated that US regulators the FCC may try and get the judiciary to define the difference between product placement and payola.

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