Can't afford Microsoft Office? You no longer need to

In the last half of a year, there have been several compelling challengers to Microsoft Office. None of them will be as full featured, but desktop application Open Office will get you close. Now comes "Think Free", which is an entirely online version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Fairly deep in features, compatible with office documents, run within a web browser, and integrated into many popular web apps like Flickr and Del.icio.us for easy additions of pictures and links. You get 1gb of free storage, can collaborate on files, and more. If you need to work from home but don't want to pay for Office, want to share a document between home and work, or collaborate on something, this can be a great way to go. First load takes a while while the java code downloads.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

facebook wants to follow you through life

Facebook is gradually rolling out to companies, allowing people with Accenture, Amazon, Apple, EA, Gap, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft, Pepsi, PWC and Teach for America email addresses to register. The won't open it completely because their community nature is what makes them a safer environment (increasingly important for gaining advertising $$), but this is a step towards networking in the business/job sector. Supposedly they have an 85% penetration in colleges, so they need to keep growing to justify the $2 billion they want to sell for (which, as it looks, will never happen, and they may even not get the $750mm they were offered put on the table ever again). AOL is expected to come out with a competitor built into AIM, which will give them an easy method of acquiring users, and other challengers to the thrown are coming out every day, so this is a hard place to hold your place on time. If I were them I'd sell while they're sure they can.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

The "Me2Revolution" - restructuring of company communications

Since I thought this essay was really interesting, I'll post it here. That said, if you don't want to read the whole thing, check out what's in red. A discussion of how leadership, credibility, etc, is changing in this new age of communication. How companies need to open their doors to internal discussion of larger ideas, rather than dictating top down policy, and more. The original document, written by Edelman Communications, Here.

The traditional approach to corporate communications envisages a controlled process of scripted messages delivered by the chief executive, first to investors, then to other opinion-formers, and only later to the mass audiences of employees and consumers. In the past five years, this pyramid-of influence model has been gradually supplanted by a peer-to-peer, horizontal discussion among multiple stakeholders. The employee is the new credible
source for information about a company, giving insight from the front lines. The
consumer has become a co-creator, demanding transparency on decisions from
sourcing to new-product positioning.

Smart companies must reinvent their communications thinking, moving away from a sole reliance on top-down messages delivered through mass advertising. This is the Me2 Revolution. What is now required is a combination of outreach to traditional elites, including investors, regulators, and academics, plus the new elites, such as involved consumers, empowered employees, and non-governmental organizations.

The most profound finding of the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer is that in six of the 11 countries surveyed, the "person like yourself or your peer" is seen as the most credible spokesperson about a company and among the top three spokespeople in every country surveyed. This has advanced steadily over the past three years.

In the US, for example, the "person like yourself or your peer" was only trusted by 22% of respondents as recently as 2003, while in this year's study, 68% of respondents said they trusted a peer. Contrast that to the CEO, who ranks in the bottom half of credible sources in all countries, at 28% trust in the US, near the level of lawyers and legislators. In China, the "person like yourself or your peer" is trusted by 54% of respondents, compared to the next highest spokesperson, a doctor, at 43%.

Meanwhile, "friends and family" and "colleagues" rank as two of the three most credible sources for information about a company, just behind articles in business magazines. Again, in the US, the "colleagues" number has jumped from 38% in 2003 to 56% in 2006. We facilitated the revolt by employees of Morgan Stanley against top management, soliciting opinions through their futureofms.com website, which then led to stories in traditional media. Why the change, with increased reliance on those you know? The Edelman Trust Barometer shows clearly the deep trust void facing traditional institutions including business, government, and the media.

Government scandals in the past year alone include the termination of Antonio Fazio, the Governor of the Bank of Italy, for passing confidential information on a merger, the Gomery Commission finding of illicit payments to ad agencies in Quebec, and the failure of the US government to respond adequately to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Business has also had several major issues, including the termination for cause of long-time AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg for alleged self-dealing, the conviction of Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski for cheating shareholders, and the spectacular collapse of Refco only four months after its IPO worth $2billion.

Beyond the lack of confidence in the traditional sources of information lies a more fundamental change, a yearning to move beyond the simple act of consumption of information to social networking. The rise of MySpace, Facebook, and Wikipedia is premised on sharing of content with a group of likeminded individuals. It is the wisdom of the crowd, with constant updating of content based on personal experience. Media companies like the BBC have already harnessed this powerful force - most notably during the horrific London bombings of July 7,2005 - to bring stories from citizen journalists on the scene to its BBC.com. There is sharing of content because now we can do it easily, quickly, and colorfully.The Pew Center for Media noted that 60% of US teens have created and shared content on the Internet.

How can companies embrace this future of empowered stakeholders? Speak from the inside out, telling your employees and customers what is happening so they can spread the word for you. Be transparent, revealing what you know when you know it while committing to updating as you learn more. Be willing to yield control of the message in favor of a rich dialogue, in which you learn by listening. Recognize the importance of repetition of the story in multiple venues, because nobody believes something he or she hears or sees for the first time. Embrace new technologies, from employee blogs to podcasts, because audiences are becoming ever more segmented. Co-create a brand by taking on an issue that makes sense for your business, such as GE's Ecomagination campaign where green is truly green.

In 1850, author Ralph Waldo Emerson commented on the rising importance ofnewspapers to the young American republic. He said, "Look at the morning trains(with their commuters)...into every car the newsboy unfolds his magic sheets, two pence a head his brand of knowledge costs."We are now at the point of reinventing the experience of communications, the
essence of the Me2 Revolution."

Technorati Tags: ,

Sketch-up 3D Modeling for Free

SketchUp Plus Screen Capture
Having not used AutoCAD, i'm assuming this program comes nowhere close. Still, if you want to design some basic 3D structures, plan out additions to your house, etc, Google just released Sketch-Up, a program that used to be charged for until Google bought their company a few weeks ago, rebranded it, and released it this morning.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


Get into the Yahoo Mail Beta

If you are interested in trying out the new(ish) Yahoo! Mail beta, some instructions spilled out that let you find your way in.  The interface is slick and much easier to use than the current mail, but its very slow to load and if you are using a 10 year old work computer you might want to wait until they figure out how to cure this.  Has support for RSS feeds, drag and drop, multiple windows, and other powerful features that would be great if it didn't take forever to enter the thing.  I can't vouch for this working, but the last 'hack' for MSN Live Mail did.

Yahoo! Mail Beta
  1. Log
    into Yahoo! Mail and click on "My Account" and enter your password if prompted.
  2. On the Account
    Info page next to the "Member Information" header click on "Edit."
  3. Under
    "General Preferences" click on the link next to "Language & Content" or "Preferred
    Content" (mine says "Yahoo! U.S.").
  4. On the subsequent page in the "New
    Setting" box choose Yahoo! United Kingdom, Germany, or France.
  5. Click "Finished" and then
    "Finished" again on the next page.
  6. You'll be prompted to sign a new TOS and then you should get
    an offer to join the Yahoo! Mail Beta.
Technorati Tags: , , ,

Family Guy vs. American Dad

To promote each show's pending DVD releases, Family Guy and American Dad have a Street Fighter like game out complete with special moves and finishing moves. Game play is weak, but whawt can you really expect; mostly worth it for the comic value - dialogue and finishing moves that animate out differently for each character.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Google Calendar is actually really useful

A few weeks ago Google released a calendar program, Google Calendar. I wasn't sure at first how much I might find the thing useful, because I've looked at other calendars and I simply don't share that much of a schedule with the rest of the world. But Google Calendar is useful for the reason Google is useful - it becomes so easy to find information. Think you don't have that many things to keep track of? Maybe not personally, but in a breeze you can add layer after layer of information onto your calendar, searchable, customizable, and optionally visable very easily. In no time I added calendar layers that show the phillies/mets baseball schedules, american/jewish holidays, new york events, job programs, birthdays, and more. You can look for public information calendars across the web, import from outlook or yahoo calendar, and more. You can also add events on the fly by typing something like "baseball game monday at 7" and the calendar will inteligently add the event. It's also integrated with Gmail so that if someone writes a similar line in an email to you, there's an "add to calendar" option. You can do event invites, through email also. Finally, you can share or publish any calendar with contacts, or to other services.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


How Google has changed in the last 8 years

Take a look at snapshots fom 8 years of Google; not much has changed...

Technorati Tags:


The DaVinci Code mystery on Google

No Image
Google has a promotional program for "The DaVinci Code" the movie now running as an opt-in module for Google Personalized Homepage. It's basically a complex 24-day online puzzle adventure, which if I had the time for sounds really cool. If any of my roommates still reads this thing, i'm sure they'll obsess over it quickly. Oh and the internet spin - this is the first time an advertisement of any sort has landed on the Google hompage, personalized, opt-in, or otherwise.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Tivo Wins

tivo_logo3.jpgProbably a half a year ago I suggested to my finance obsessed roommmates that Tivo stock might be a good buy, a comment founded only on my interest in what I knew Tivo was going to roll out with and ignoring the fact that the product had never had a profitable year in its existance. While I was probably foolish in my prediction, it may start to pan out anyway. Tivo just won a major lawsuit against EchoStar in terms of patent infringement as a "multimedia time warping system", which is a very broad definition of what Tivo and its followers attempt to be. This cut down a competitor, and also induced DirecTV to renew their contract with Tivo for another 3 years, though they were expected to be out the door and produce their own "tivo-like" box. Now Tivo's stock has taken a major jump, although it's peak was the day of the announcement, and we'll see when the new-gen boxes come out where it goes from there.

Technorati Tags: , ,


What are people downloading?

Here's a program, PeerMind, that tracks what people are downloading using ED2K and Gnutella (with a promise to be tracking Bittorrent soon). The numbers, in quantity and quality are pretty astounding, showing just in a week what people are doing (and historical). Notice that the leading movie is Ice Age 2, which is currently in theaters, and Madonna has also been in the top 10 downloaded songs (probably number 1) for 19 straight weeks. What's interesting to note about this is that the most popular downloads don't necessarily reflect a computer tech-type, but more the mainstream, which means downloading has become so easy that everyone is doing it. What are the implications for the industry? Is the Fox and ABC announcement news that will affect this?

Fox joins ABC in putting reruns online

Fox and ABC both announced last week that they'll begin to air reruns of their hit TV shows online, as soon as 24 hours after the innitial TV episode airs. This is a smart move, putting reruns of 24, Lost, and Desperate Housewives online faster than some people could even download the episode. There will be a few "commercial breaks" with internet video spots rolled in that can't be skipped, but overall the viewing experience will be without much stopage, and finally be a fully legal way of catching the episode of a show you missed. It's taken them a long time, but they're finally catching on.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Firefox viral videos

Firefox is running a viral video campaign, asking people to submit :30 second commercials to help promote the browser. These two are the most popular so far-

Technorati Tags: , ,


ESPN lowers the cost of their phone

@ NCTA: On The Floor -- Mobile ESPNESPN dropped the price of their rediculously expensive phone from $499 to $99, which gives it a much better, but still slim chance of making it in the market. I hadn't seen a single person in the City walking around with one of these, with the acception of people I know who work for ESPN, until last night, and of cours eI don't know if ther person at the Mets game wasn't working for ESPN. Still, with plans that give you enough talk time starting at $70 a month, we'll see if people jump on board.

Technorati Tags: , ,


PayPal Mobile: Pay someone via your cell phone

PayPal unleashed their mobile application today, allowing any two people with PayPal accounts to transfer money via a text message. PayPal, predominately used for eBay transactions, is becoming more diverse and more helpful- transfering money between people costs nothing, and it can be linked to any checking account for free. You can also turn your account into a high yield savings account, earning (currently) 4.5% on your balance. Since that beats most savings accounts, leaving money in a PayPal account for easy payments on the fly is becoming more and more handy, and all the downsides are dissapearing quickly.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Apple vs. France

This is old news, but I'd been saving the page and never posted anything about it. Did anyone notice that there's a major copyright law fight going on between Apple (and consequently the US) and France? France basically wants Apple to unlock the DRM that keeps songs bought on iTunes from being played on non-iPod mp3 players. Currently, you have to buy songs, burn them, and rip them again to use them as unrestricted mp3's. Apple wants full inter-operability for music purchased via any store for any mp3 player. The US has declared their support for Apple, and the battle begins.

Technorati Tags: , , ,


A 30 gig white video ipod

I have a white 30 gig video ipod still in the package, untouched, if anyone wants to buy it for $275

409 baseball players have a 2006 salary of $1 million or above

ESPN published the 2006 player salaries and 2006 team salaries. 409 players make a million or more this year; the yankees have 5 of the top 11, and those 5 alone total over $120 million. The marlins make $15 million in total, with 17 players making only $327K, the league minimum; this is the lowest team payroll since 1998.

Technorati Tags: ,


What should an gadget's primary function be?

Samsung's new Digimax digital cameras are a 6 megapixel camera first, with built in codecs for video playback second. They come with all the standard camera features, but then have headphone jacks and the ability to read and play xvid (a form of divx) files off memory cards. In the last year, cell phones have taken on more and more characteristics of almost every other portable technology, and now with this (and wireless capabilities) coming to cameras, we are starting to see convergence enter the camera market. It begs the question, is convergence really what we want - will companies work too hard to bring things together and not as hard at making the specific functions better? Not knowing what goes into this type of functionality, I'd rather see anti-shake, farther optical zoom, and other significant camera features hit ultra-compact cameras at lower price points, than to have something like video playback, which is likely to burn out the battery of my camera just before i actually find a picture i want to take.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Ballbug baseball news aggregator

Ballbug is a baseball news aggregator built in the same form of memeorandum (for politics) and tech.memeorandum.
These aggregators pull together the discussion around their respective
topics in real time, by tracking blogs and news sources that references
each other. Ballbug will pull together the most popular and timely
news sources in discussion form throughout the season.

Technorati Tags: , ,


Full purchase movies arrive on the internet

Time Warner, Sony, Universal, MGM, Paramount, and Fox all announced that they will begin selling movies online, direct for download and full ownership, through two services, Movielink and CinemaNow. They are first to market, choosing to venture into the space without Apple or Amazon as a facilitator. While, the idea itself is a big step, the restrictions seem too much of a deterent for now. Neither service allows you to burn to a DVD that works in a television DVD player, and the most either allows for shared use is 3 computers. In addition, the movies take several hours to download. With these restrictions, how does 20 to 30 dollars stack up, and how does it even compare to Vongo? They also lack compatibility with iPods or other video players...NYT article

Technorati Tags: , , ,