12.31.2007

k. b. skobac 2007 in Review

Lets take a second to review the year statistics for k. b. skobac, the blog you (probably don't) read very often.  Here are the visitor statistics:

  • 29,666 visits
  • 25,190 unique visitors
  • 47,018 pageviews
  • 1.58 average pave views
  • 1 min 30 sec avg time on site
  • 15.21% return rate

Here are the traffic referral statistics:

  • 88.73% (26,322 visits) from google
  • 4.22% (1,252) direct to the site
  • 1.36% (403) from yahoo
  • and perhaps more interestingly: 104 visits from facebook, and 76 visits from Benn's website.

Now the top content:

  • Watch the office for free online
  • Every episode of Simpsons free online
  • k. b. skobac homepage
  • 30 highest NBA salaries for 2006-2007
  • Gary Matthews Jr. and his ridiculous catch
  • AT&T "see how they live" campaign
  • Search for songs by singing
  • Watch TNT NBA games online
  • ESPN Sports Conspiracy Theory Rumors

The top two articles alone generated over 37,000 page views, and I'm not even sure the links work anymore - I've just updated additional sources for The Office episodes, which you can check here.

Top visits by country:

  • United States (22,570 visits)
  • Canada (2988 visits)
  • UK (1,475 visits)
  • Australia (317 visits)
  • Netherlands (252 visits)
  • France (164 visits)
  • Germany (141 visits)
  • Ireland (101 visits)
  • Spain (93 visits - all Jeremy probably)

Saying Goodbye To Web Services that Died in 2008

It looks like some services I love are closing shop Today.  Yottamusic, the web service that provided a better interface for Rhapsody (most importantly it connected Last.FM to Rhapsody, why has Rhapsody itself not done that) has a goodbye letter up on its website.  Also as of midnight I can no longer access Riya, the photo website with facial recognition that I was such a fan of.  How many services that I truly liked and used will I realize have gone under as we hit the new year all over the world?

I had written the founder of Yottamusic a week ago asking about the future of the product and hadn't heard back - but he provided one-touch access to an XML file of your library and playlists if you saved music on the service, and also provided 24 hour turn around to syncing your Yottamusic library with your Rhapsody library, which is at the very least a very thoughtful and respectable addition to the service on the way out its door.

I have written the founder of Riya as well, but I've done this before and heard no response, so we'll see if it's different this time.  He is currently developing Like.com on the same technology, but for shopping, which is significantly less interesting and less valuable to me (although may be more lucrative).

12.30.2007

My First Woot Purchase - Slingbox

Woot%20Slingbox%20GI.jpg

I just purchased my first item off of Woot - a refurbished Slingbox AV single input unit for $70 plus $5 shipping (the new item is around $130 in stores).  In a few months I'll comment on the value of the product sold through Woot, and how well the Slingbox works - hopefully in a week I'll have it at my house in Cherry Hill and then I can watch Philadelphia sports games and HBO on demand over the internet!

12.28.2007

RememberTheMilk makes up for Google's deficiencies

http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.downloadsquad.com/media/2007/12/505e.jpg

RememberTheMilk, a task-management tool that's held it's ground now for years, has slowly been rolling out add-ons to Google products in order to make task-management a fully integrated feature in the Google suite of products.  Their latest release loads a full task-management dashboard directly into Gmail via a Firefox extension, in such a well designed fashion that you can't tell it isn't part of the original product once it's implemented.  It uses the same intelligent contextual typing recognition as Google products, attaches tasks to emails, fits the style perfectly, and works easily.  In addition,  you can implement a Google Calendar add-on that will display your tasks on the day they're due.  When you add a task via Google Calendar, Gmail, or even RememberTheMilk itself, the update shows up everywhere, and can be edited anywhere.  It's all incredibly impressive, and makes you wonder why Google hasn't done this itself, or purchased RememberTheMilk for this purpose.  The company also uses Google Gears for off-line support, so they're fully leveraging Google API's for added value to their own product.

RememberTheMilk full suite of application extensions

international communication or keeping in touch with friends abroad

I have friends in India (indefinitely), Barcelona (recently), and Korea (temporarily) - but lately I'm noticing more and more web applications make it easier and easier for me to stay connected and feel like my friends are part of my life and my day.

I am using Twitter to route text messages to India and receive them back just as quickly. It costs no more than a usual text message.

The other night I used AOL IM to include Bruce in a game of Scategories while he sat at an apartment in Korea. It was rudimentary but it brought him into a game with 6 of his friends back at my apartment on New York.

A few of us used Skype to hold a conference call for the fraternity Housing Corporation while we were in Barcelona talking to undergrads back in Boston.

This isn't even getting into how simple it is to email, facebook, and more. I remember back in high school when a close friend went to France for the summer and it took 3 weeks to get a letter to her - now I communicate with friends in several different ways throughout the day and it's completely seemless.

12.27.2007

The Sixers are better than everyone thought

The Sixers were picked by some to be the only team in the East guaranteed not to make the playoffs.  a few months later they're 12-16, which actually makes them on the verge of a playoff spot (number 8 is Cleveland is 13-16), and they're 7-3 in the last 10.  The new GM hasn't made any moves but maybe it's enough to raise spirits and motivate, which is what I'd like to see - there are a lot of young talented guys on the Sixers and letting them develop this year is just what we need.  Above is a shot of Iguodala's game winning shot from the other night.

12.17.2007

2nd Avenue Deli Opens and I'm There


Ari, Angela, and I made it out to the Second Avenue Deli Grand (re) Opening tonight - there was a line out the door when we arrived at 8PM, but after a short wait we were seated. We ordered the sampler - all the major meats and spreads - and bowls of matzoh ball soup. Everything from start to finish was fantastic amazing and this is likely my defacto "order in" spot now when I get stuck working late (as well as where I'm sure I'll be bringing every relative the next time they come).


12.16.2007

2nd Avenue Deli Opens Tomorrow and I'll Be There


View Larger Map

The Second Avenue Deli re-opens tomorrow after a long hiatus. Instead of it's old spot on 2nd avenue and 12th street, it will now live on 33rd between 3rd Ave and Lex - right around the corner from me!  I love good deli, and will be one of probably many showing up tomorrow in anticipation of a delicious corned beef sandwich for dinner - welcome back and welcome to the neighborhood.

Google's ulterior motive of collecting more information, and Google profiles

There's an interesting interview with Marissa Mayer, Google's VP, where she discusses how Google sometimes makes moves for ulterior motives - her example being 1-800-GOOG-411.  Engineers were really looking for data to analyze in working on speech recognition modeling:

"The speech recognition experts that we have say: If you want us to build a really robust speech model, we need a lot of phonemes, which is a syllable as spoken by a particular voice with a particular intonation. So we need a lot of people talking, saying things so that we can ultimately train off of that. ... So 1-800-GOOG-411 is about that: Getting a bunch of different speech samples so that when you call up or we're trying to get the voice out of video, we can do it with high accuracy."

It's an interesting point and makes you think of Google products and Google decisions in a different light.

Seperately, Google has started integrating social features into more of their tools, and are beginning to develop the Google profile, which will follow you across their products.  Right now you can see it in Google Shared Stuff, in Google Maps, in Google Reader, and more.  In Google Reader, you can now see your gmail and chat contacts' shared feeds in a separate dashboard.  Soon you will hopefully begin to receive information flow about more actions directly within the same contact dashboard, just like the newsfeed in facebook (these same contacts are updating shared documents, adding photos to Picasa, building maps, etc).

View and subscribe to my shared items feed here (visible on the right of this page) - and let me know if you use Google Reader.

Watch TNT NBA Games Online

  Apparently you can watch TNT's Thursday night NBA game broadcast directly online - I haven't confirmed this but if I can remember I'll try to check it out this week.  ESPN is already doing it if you already have the right carrier, so I'm basically just live streaming sports-center away from not needing a cable TV subscription.

12.14.2007

Free TV Online with OpenHulu

If you weren't lucky enough to get into the Hulu beta, the NBC/Fox Corp joint venture which will host free ad-supported television content from the two networks, as well as other partners, check out OpenHulu - you can watch high quality streaming video of all of the shows you can find inside Hulu - a simple alphabetic menu of all of the shows starts you off.  Not all of the shows are there but you can find free episodes of 24, 30 Rock, Family Guy, Heroes, The Office, The Simpsons, and more.

OpenHulu

 

My iGoogle Dektop is getting better and better

Some great gadgets have made my iGoogle homepage really cool and helpful:

1. Netvibes universal widgets ecosystem - the widgets developers are building for Netvibes are stronger, cleaner, and more interesting usually than what has come out on iGoogle itself. Now most of those widgets can be ported to iGoogle for use on your homepage, (they also work for just about every other widget platform around).
The most impressive widget might be the Facebook iPhone widget, which lets you navigate through the slick, compact iPhone interface for Facebook directly embeded in your iGoogle homepage.
The second is Twitter King, which is a comprehensive and clean twitter widget that lets you see twitter updates and send your own, as well as direct message, right within the interface.

2. Compound gadget built in the iGoogle interface lets you combine several gadgets that you use little but want available often. In my case I have gMail, Google docs, and Google Calendar all at in one gadget - I leave gMail live so I can see when I have new email, but then I have easy access to my calendar and my documents when I need to use one or the other (this is the type of combined interface that gMail should possibly have at some point).

All in all I have 11 widgets on the page in some fashion. I can read blog posts, listen to music, browse social networks, manage my communication, read the news, and more without leaving the iGoogle homepage at all.

Google set to release a Wikipedia contender

knol.jpg

 

Tonight Google announced on their official blog that they are launching a Wikipedia competitor, which they will label "knol".  It's worth reading the press release yourself because Wikipedia is one of the cornerstones of the web, and the symbiotic relationship between Wikipedia and Google could be in jeapordy.  What do I mean by that - Wikipedia is often in the top results for Google, as it is often the most reliable and valuable content on the web; at the same time, Google is the number one referrer to Wikipedia, driving a significant number of its millions of users monthly.  Now Google is potentially creating a resource that will want priority over Wikipedia in search engines.  There are HUGE questions here:

  • How will Knol  maintain quality control, without editors or a wikipedia-style self-policing community
    • Will author and page ratings be enough
    • Will they rely on search algorithms
      • What will be the value factors
    • How will they fight 'gaming' of the system, link farming, etc, that will draw heavy attention due to the connection to Google
  • Is there a concern that Google will slowly own all of the content that is prioritized in all of its search engines
    • It has most of the video between YouTube and Google Video, what if it has most of the content pages
  • Does the world need another Wikipedia, what is this going to do that Wikipedia doesn't already do so well?
  • If this is done wrong, will it jeopardize the value of the search engine or fill it with spam?

For myself, I'm skeptical that we need Knol, and whether Google as an impartial search engine should be providing it.  Wikipedia is one of the great success stories of the web - a near perfect example of global utility, global scale, global teamwork and policing.  It's one of the single most useful resources on the web and many people's day wouldn't be the same without it.  It has an unusual levle of trust that has not disappeared with it's success, all of which is to be admired.  So there are a lot of questions about Google's intent, and whether they will succeed, and there will be a lot of people watching.

Meanwhile, donate money to Wikipedia HERE - you all use it all of the time, and it's not ad supported, so it needs the donations.

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Seeqpod looks like a really good free music search engine

SeeqPod Music beta, Playable Search (tm)

Seeqpod is a music search engine that scours the web for mp3's hosted by various sites, embedded in articles, linked to in blogs, etc.  It's at its at its core a vertical search engine for the web, purely focused on music.   Built around the search engine, though, is a fully functioning media center - you can play the mp3's, make playlists, save files, and more.  And if you follow the URL's, you can download the mp3's direct from the sources.  In a few random search tests, I found all of the songs I was looking for - this one seems like a great resource for free music mp3 files on the web!

12.12.2007

My Concert List in 2007

Now that the year is pretty much over, and I have no more tickets to shows, I thought I'd look back to see my concert list since last year.

I also saw small acoustic sets of

and sat outside of the stage in central park for

Many of the shows were great in some way - Matisyahu being the most unique performance, Muse being the most intense live band, but I would see most of these groups again, depending on the price and the venue.  I saw Gym Class Heroes receive their gold album on stage, learned about Back Door Slam in the back of a bar, discovered Difibulators at a restaurant, revisited high school with Alice in Chains, Velvet Revolver, Counting Crows, Live, and Collective Soul.  Each concert was an an experience and I am looking forward to more next year.

23AndMe Lets You Learn About Your DNA

23andMe, founded by the wife of one of the Google guys, is basically a comprehensive personal DNA test.  There are other services that do this, but this is expected to be the most comprehensive (I believe).  If your curious what type of information you will get from it, Mark Fletcher (the founder of GoDaddy) describes his results here.  The process isn't cheap, $1,000, and it brings up the question of how much do you really want to know about your future (are you going to live life shattered if you know you have a high likelihood to become sick later on in a certain way), but it's the information could be really interesting.  Some of the sample questions that might be answered are:

  • Do your genes help you sprint faster?
  • How well can you taste bitter foods?
  • Do you share maternal ancestry with outlaw Jesse James?
  • Are you more similar to Mayans or Basques?

12.09.2007

Matisyahu Channukah Concert at Roseland Ballroom in New York City

 

Ari and I went to see Matisyahu during Channukah for the second straight year.  The opener was a supposedly well known Reggae band The Whalers, who played mostly covers of groups I didn't know but songs I recognized, which made them entertaining The Wailers, who were Bob Marley's original band - it turns out we recognized most of what they played, which made it really easy to get into (I just learned this after writing the original post).  Matisyahu himself was great - he's an engaging performer, and its amazing to watch Jews & non-Jews a like get immersed into his music, which is all heavily religious.  He jumped around the stage despite walking with a cane due to injury, he brought out guest performers (that I didn't recognize), and he lit brought audience members on stage to light the Menorah.  We met some Israelis, and then a Venezuelan kid who supposedly came to New York from Venezuela for the show (he spoke fractured English so we didn't quite connect on everything), an amazing fact.  One ridiculous thing - at the end of the show a security guard grabbed his camera and took out his memory card, screaming at him, claiming that he was video taping, which was heavily illegal.  The security guard walked right by myself and numerous other audience members who were doing the same thing, with possibly less impressive cameras (he later talked to another guard, who got his card back unharmed).  The videos I took don't do justice to the performance Matisyahu put on - check him out yourself, and if you want an album my recommendation is Live at Stubs.  Also his single on the following album, Jerusalem, is great (listen below).   There are also a few pretty interesting videos of Chassidic dancing by Matisyahu and others that was done on stage.

My photos

My videos

 

12.08.2007

Back from Florence Italy

I'm finally back from all of my vacations - this last to Florence.  The trip itself was fantastic and I well documented it.  I have to thank Melissa, Emily, Katie, and others who gave me such thorough advice on what to do and where to eat, all of which lead me to having a great experience.  In return for their time I've written an extensive itinerary on Yahoo! Travel so I can contribute on my own to other people's future journeys.  You can check out the photo album here, or see the slide show.

11.27.2007

Watch the World of Photos and Texts

If you want to be a global voyeur, check out twittervision and flickrvision - sit back and watch the latest twitter posts and flickr uploads from around the world in real time.  Might be particularly interesting if a globally impacting event takes place.

11.22.2007

Back from Barcelona

11.2007.barcelona.spain 296

I'm back from Barcelona for a few days to have Thanksgiving with my family before I turn around and leave for Florence.  Barcelona was incredible, probably one of my favorite cities - the food, the way the city is run, the people, the atmosphere, the attitude - I could easily see enjoying a month there instead of a few nights.  Above links to my whole picture album, and here is a direct link to the slide show.

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Gym Class Heroes Cover Arctic Monkeys at MSG

Last week I went to see Gym Class Heroes and Fall Out Boy at Madison Square Gardens.  Whatever you think of Gym Class Heroes, they are phenomenal performers - it may have  helped that they are from New York, but they were charged up for every song, engaged the crowd, and generally went turned up every song in some way or another.  At one point they covered the Arctic Monkeys song "Leave Before the Lights Come On", which was the highlight of the night for me.  Fall Out Boy was also great, and covered "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers, but our recording didn't come out very well.

11.16.2007

No blogging - traveling all of November!

I won't get much time to write in November (as you've probably noticed) - I'm in Spain now, and will be in Italy soon enough. In the mean time I'll update periodically through Twitter (which you can see on the right of my blog, or on Facebook). Have a good month!

11.04.2007

View from the top of the Empire State Building

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Today I went to the top of the Empire State Building for the first time since moving to New York City, or in my adult memory for that matter.  It's one of those things you reserve for tourists, or for when you'll have to to show a visitor around (today I brought my friends from Idaho there), but it really was cool getting to look out on the whole city.  We went at the perfect time - a little before sunset fell - which got us up to the top before all of the major evening crowds hit.  I definitely recommend spending the $19 (for adults) on a nice day and making your way up there, and in the mean time you can check out my photos.

11.03.2007

Will Spencer Combines Skateboarding with Parkour

William Spenser, a Youtube phenom who just signed with MTV for a skateboard show based on his video clips, is flat out impressive.  I don't think it's fair to call it parkour because it seems to lack the same physical and mental discipline, but his ability to do pull off even flips and land on skateboards is incredible.

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10.31.2007

Seeing the Back Door Slam at Mercury Lounge

 

I went to see the Back Door Slam last night at Mercury Lounge with Bruce and some friends. I had never heard of them, but the promise of a new band and a strictly defined 8:30 - 9:15 show time was enough to get me there. The Back Door Slam is a band comprised of 3 kids around 20 years in age from England who think they were born 70 years ago. They play Jazz on electric instraments, they sing with the voice, of a 60 year old black soul singer, and they cover songs from the 1930's, with their own electric rock sound infused. And the sound is phenominal. I'm embedding a video up top because you won't believe who they are when you hear the sound, but to get some samples check out Last.FM, find one or two songs at Hype Machine, watch more videos from Google Video, and buy the album from Amazon when you're convinced.

By the way - the blue boxes you see after the Last.FM and Amazon links are AdaptiveBlue SmartLinks - Adaptive Blue is a semantic web application that brings together a whole picture of the web around single elements on a page, in this case links it identifies to content from one of its trusted sources.

Tim Duncan Cares More About the Team Than Money (Unlike the rest of the NBA)

http://cache.eb.com/eb/image?id=91294&rendTypeId=4 Tim Duncan is reportedly going to accept a $20 million per year contract extension that will keep him on the Spurs until 2012. This is significantly under the max contract he could receive, reportedly up to $10 million less. It's nice to hear an all-star player say that he cares more about finishing his career with his team, and that he wants them to have the flexibility to sign other players in the future. It's nice to hear someone give a little for the betterment of the team, and to show that it's not all about the dollars - not that $20 million per year is anything to scoff at.


Blogged with Flock

Twitter and RSS Beat CNN to the Punch Alerting Me About the California Earthquake

At 11:05 PM EST an earthquake of 5.6 magnitude hit Northern California; as of yet there is no major damage or injury to report.

By 11:17 PM EST there were reports that Twitter was lighting up with first hand documentary about the earthquake.

By 11:24 PM EST I received my first alert via a blog posting noting how much activity was on Twitter about the earthquake.

At 11:53 PM EST CNN published their first mention of the earthquake - 48 minutes after the event, at least 36 minutes after the Twitter community was heavily documenting, and 29 minutes after Google Reader had the chance to index blog articles that had already been written.

Social journal journalism, first hand / mass / personal documentary, leveraging incredibly strong social media tools, is continually showing its strength, its significance, and why it needs to be adopted sooner than later into the mainstream media, as well as through public consumption.

10.29.2007

Websites Becoming Like Movie Releases

Tumblr v3

I'm waiting for a new version of Tumblr on November 1st (see above graphic).

I'm waiting for an announcement from Google about a new open social platform on November 5th.

I'm waiting for an announcement from Facebook on a new ad platform on November 6th.

Everyone's making announcements about their announcements to come.

Oh and October 29th Hulu will be (privately) opened. Hulu is Fox and NBC's YouTube competitor. It's really a different beast all together, since there is no user generated content. Instead, it's a syndicated platform to bring their collective content to the web in a major way. Soon you'll be able to choose episodes from shows, watch them in high quality streaming online, and connect to them across a number of platforms. You can't download, you can't archive, but it will be a start of a valuable online television offering from the major broadcast networks. Here is the list of shows that will be available in the beginning.

Update:
Hulu embeded video of Heroes episode 5 courtesy of DownloadSquad


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10.25.2007

Scrubs is back tonight (10/25) at 9:30 !!

http://www.tvblanket.com/scrubs_season_1_dvd_1.JPG

The best show in TV starts up again tonight.  Scrubs season debute tonight at 9:30 PM on NBC.  I'm also really liking this year: Flight of the Conchords, Weeds, Heroes, and How I Met Your Mother.  (In each case I linked to the top search result, so I guess Showtime doesn't have good SEO in comparison to the other stations)

10.22.2007

Ramblings in the middle of the night

I woke up in the middle of the night so I guess I'll ramble

1. I'm doing this because WIRED's cheat on sleep said I shouldn't lay back down until I'm really tired.

2. I went to sleep after midnight, it's 3:45 a.m., and there are 22 new blog posts in my RSS reader - bloggers never sleep it seems.

3. How cheap does the Zune have to get before I buy it for no real reason - $80 for a 30GB refurbished brown Zune now and I'm still balking.

4. The new SanDisk Sansa TakeTV Video Player is a 4gb $100 memory stick that plays DIVX files in HD on your TV with no file conversion. Interesting, and interesting that they chose to put it under their "Sansa" line, which previously covered my mp3 player.

5. My friends and I did a live-auction fantasy baseball draft last night - it turns fantasy basketball into poker and game theory. Somewhat unrelated, Bruce has a pretty hilarious account of the draft.

6. This sure is a different election - TechCrunch is doing interviews with political candidates, Obama and Edwards are twittering (badly), and Myspace & YouTube are airing the debates.

7. The Red Sox are the ALCS champions but the Rockies never lose so it doesn't matter - until the Rockies face Josh Beckett, who also doesn't lose (in the playoffs). I'm pulling for the Rockies I think, but not positive because I'm still bitter about them beating the Phillies so badly.

8. Seeing the chart of the dollar - euro conversion is scary, and doesn't give me confidence in finding an affordable vacation in Europe any time soon.

9. It's past 4 a.m. and Yahoo! Sports didn't update the fantasy football points from yesterday - it's 5 a.m. for baseball and 3 a.m. for basketball - when do football points turn over?

10. The successor to my phone came out - it has windows mobile, a dedicated front keypad, and wifi - I am very jealous, but it is way too expensive.

11. This has killed a half hour, and if I can fall asleep now I'll get 2 full sleep cycles, which is supposedly the right length of time to sleep, so hopefully this helped.

10.21.2007

Radiohead "Pay What You Want" Doesn't Stop Pirating

radiohead_inrainbows.png

Supposedly in the first week, 1.2 million albums were downloaded from Radiohead's official website in the first week,  at varying "pay what you want" prices (I've heard the average was $5 - $8, but this is all on non-confirmed secondary site surveys).  At the same time, 500,000 people downloaded the album from bittorrent.  So even though it was basically nothing to download the album, people often defaulted to the method they were used to getting the music from.  Was this to get higher quality files, to avoid the hassle of site registration, or just because why change habit when what you do works - until there's a compelling reason to do so?  (And legality isn't a good enough reason for most people.)

Either way it's worth noting that the band only sold six times the number of albums they sold last year - only 300,000.  So the buzz alone from the "pay what you want" exercise paid off in multiples.

Flock is the Facebook / Flickr / Twitter / YouTube / Blogger Social Media Web Browser



Flock, the long-time in development social web browser that I wrote about 16 months ago, finally released version 1.0 of their web browser, a very different product from their beginning. Flock is meant to create a browing experience that is integrated into your social media existence - it merges you with flickr, youtube, facebook, twitter, blogger and more. The screenshot above is what Flock can look like with everything opened - your default homepage, sidebar, and top-bar.
The left bar handles your contacts in your social networks - you can sort by recent updates, or tab to a specific network. In this view you can see recent changes or postings by all of your contacts, as well as all available options for each of your contacts depending on the social network. You can also send links, pictures, and more directly to a particular friend by simply dragging an object from the main browser over to particular person in the sidebar. The top bar handles media streams - the most interesting pictures on flickr, your friends recent photos on facebook, etc. Then the main "home" tab offers you a quick view of your most recently used favorites, news updates via the built in RSS reader, and your friends recently updated media on Flickr, youtube, etc.
Additional features that are interesting - direct upload to flickr, a built in RSS reader, and a blogging tool (which this post is being written in). And the whole browser is built on Mozilla code, so most firefox extensions will be available for Flock.
I doubt many people will rush to download Flock, but I'm sure the heavy Facebook users would love it if they tried to use it. And as with all things social on the web, the more social tools that people use, the more valuable this browser will be.

Blogged with Flock

10.17.2007

The Google Social Network (Now and Future)


Today Google opened features on Google Maps that allow users to create a social profile highlighting reviews they've written, maps they've created, and a stream of updates to both. Additionally, the page includes the sidebar that was launched with Google Shared Stuff, a universal bookmarking/sharing service similar to Digg / Del.icio.us that Google unraveled last week. Currently Google Shared Stuff is a confusing product because it overlaps with Google Reader's social features, as well as Google Bookmarks, but since you can email articles, save them, publish them, and even bookmark them to other social networks (Digg for example), it's a powerful social tool. In the mean time, within one week Google has unveiled the beginning of a social network that is part Yelp, part Digg, and potentially much more diverse and powerful. Pretty soon I expect to have all of the items I share from Google products available in one place - when I add a location to my map, when I share a Google Reader item, when I upload a Picasa photo, and more. If this is integrated with Google's recently purchased Twitter Competitor Jaiku, then I will switch to Jaiku. If this all creates a universal sidebar that I can add to Blogger, then my blog will be my ultimate social publishing tool (it is slowly becoming that now, but with a great deal of work and adding of numerous widgets). And if this is all combined with Orkut, Google's popular everywhere-but-the-U.S. social network, then this the a potentially all encompassing social platform. And I'm sure all this will happen relatively soon, since the last week has pointed them in that direction, and they aren't waiting around for me to give them half-fledged ideas on this blog.

A quick shout-out - I'm writing this while sitting at Gregory's Coffee shop on Park Ave, and while I am resisting the urge to drink coffee, it smells amazing. I'll have to remember to come back!

10.16.2007

Outside.in Local Blogging






Since several of the last few posts I've been interested in writing have been about New York City activities, I wanted to find a way to bring together the local events that I've highlighted. Given that most of these events are found on the web I wanted to give back to contribute myself to the local New York City blogging community, highlight photos that I've taken around the city, etc. Outside.In is a local blogging community that aggregates posts around a map and specific geo-targeted locations. By adding a map link or a zip-code tag, you can have your posts automatically imported into the Outside.in community. I haven't fully explored the Outside.in website, but already I can see on my map the recent posts I've tagged, as well as lists of posts that have been about the same location.

Cardinals Stadium and Arch - My Most Popular Flickr Photo

st. louis cardinals stadium and arch

A picture I took of the Arch overlooking the new St. Louis Cardinals baseball stadium has become popular on Flickr - 7 people have tagged it as a favorite in the last 3 months, and over 700 people have viewed it. The photo was taken with my Canon SD700 IS, using color isolation to highlight the reds in the stadium, an homage to the Cardinal.

Other color isolation photos I've taken can be found here.

10.14.2007

Used Book Cafe

I wanted to mention this before I forget.  The Pandora meet-up was held at a really cool place that I'd never heard of - the Housing Works Used Book Cafe.  The Used Book Cafe is a completely volunteer book store that sells only donated books.  The end point is "100% of profits go to Housing Works, which is a non-profit organization that provides housing, health care, job training, advocacy, and more to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS."  If you're looking for a way to help out the a good cause beyond just cutting a check, you can donate books or donate time directly at the book store.  It's also great place to hold an event, as the Pandora meet-up proved, with a coffee shop, open area, and a good sound system.

[where: 10012] map it

10.12.2007

Gmail storage is increasing, now what about Picasaweb?

    gmailstorage.PNG

Gmail Storage is increasing more rapidly starting today:

"Gmail just revised their storage estimates for the next 1449 years. Googlified
dug around in the code and discovered that you’ll be getting a tiny
increase to 2912MB on Friday, 4.2GB by October 23, 6GB by January 4
2008, 42GB by 2038 and 2.70266701 × 1072 TB by 3456. Google has since
since confirmed by on the Gmail blog that the counter’s speed has been increased." [via Mashable]

Now what about Picasaweb?  Man I wish Google had bought Flickr and integrated it with Picasa.  Picasa has better geo-tagging, desktop integration, and video, but Flickr has better social features a better web design, and unlimited storage for $25 a year.  And we need all of this in one place.

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Pandora and the Music Genome Project

http://hypebot.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/pandora250w_2.gif

Yesterday Ari and I attended a talk by Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora and the Music Genome Project (the talk was held at Housingworks Bookstore Cafe, which I'll cover in another post). 

To step back for those not familiar with either, the Music Genome Project is an attempt to break down music into hundreds of attributes, a musical taxonomy, in order to have a complex database of what specific elements within a strong attract a listener.  Once a characterization of a listener's genome interests is developed, more accurate predictions about what a user likes to listen to can be made.  Pandora is a streaming radio interface built on top of the Music Genome Project that lets you 'kick off' a radio station with a song of your choice and then as you rate positive or negative, the radio player tailors around the very specific characteristics that they notice you prefer over time.  Most people that have used Pandora at all find that it is usually exceptionally accurate at achieving its goal.

Tim gave us the entire history of how Pandora came to be, starting with his failed career as a musician, and the years he was completely bankrupt during the dot-com bust.  He developed the idea for the Music Genome Project when he was working as a film composer, trying to pick out soundtrack songs while a director gave him the attributes of a song he felt needed to fit into a scene.  Some additional interesting facts came out about Pandora during the talk:

  • Currently there are 500,000 songs in the Music Genome Project, growing by 15,000 each week at this point
  • 50 trained professional musicians spend up to a half hour per song breaking each song down into 400 classifications
  • Pandora is the single largest referrer to Amazon and iTunes for music sales
  • At peak during the day up to 1.5% of all global internet bandwith is being used by Pandora

He also told us about the recent issue with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act coming to an end and the proposed fee increase on radio streams that was expected to crush internet radio.  When this happen, Pandora asked their users to write their senators and request action be taken against this.  During the first week, 400 thousand fans called or faxed their congressman, and overall 1 million calls or faxes (out of 1.4 million total) hit congressman overall.  Because of this a hold was put on the bill and new negotiations are currently taking place.  This is apparently one of the quickest and most effective grass routes political movements ever (which is a larger discussion).

Overall the talk, which was more an active Q & A by the audience, was fantastic, and I definitely recommend you attending next time he comes to town if you are interested at all in music or internet startups.

[where: 10012] map it

10.09.2007

k b skobac mobile (from mofuse)

luck you now my website is available as a mobile WAP site!




you can bookmark http://m.mofuse.com/kskobac on any mobile phone and read the k b skobac blog in any mobile WAP browser. This is brought to you by a really cool and simple service called Mofuse.

(I'm fairly certain this will never get used but I figured why not)

David Belle and Parkour in New York City

This weekend the New Yorker brought David Belle, the creator of Parkour, to New York City for a class, interview, and demonstration.  If you haven't heard of Parkour before, you've probably seen it in the opening sequence of the last James Bond movie.   The jumps he performs, the balance and mastery of movement seem to almost defy gravity.  David Belle created it as an art form which he describes as akin to yoga and meditation - far from the extreme sport it appears to be in the highlight reels and movies.  Since James Bond it's picked up popularity in the United States, but he's been doing it for 20 years.  The demonstration was mostly New York City kids that took his class the day before, but even elementary moves are impressive.  Then David Belle took a flying leap across some pillars about 3 stories above the ground (the videos don't do the danger of this justice, but if you've been outside the Jacob Javitz Center you will be able to appreciate it).  These aren't enough

Check out more parkour videos here



[where: 10001]

10.07.2007

Apple Should Expand on Music On-The-Go After the Starbucks iTunes Partnership


I didn't think I'd care, but after standing in line for 10 minutes this morning at Starbucks this morning and hearing a few songs that I'd love to listen to later but probably won't remember to download when I get home, I was jealous of the people who have iPhones or iTouch iPods and could download and enjoy the music on the fly. Still, it's so specific - only 1 million people with iPhones, and how many of them will use it at Starbucks? There really needs to be an open standard that stores can implement to allow their actively playing music to notify mp3 players of what song is playing and give the offer to purchase it. More than Starbucks I hear songs I like all of the time in clothing stores (GAP, American Eagle, etc), and often its impossible to even find out what the song is. The more places this music discovery and purchase feature is offered the more valuable and attractive as a sale point it will be. Also, if this was an open standard for all wi-fi enabled players, maybe we'd see wi-fi become a standard feature in product build moving forward.

10.05.2007

Radiohead's Innovative Method of Selling Music

inrainbows.jpg

By now this is old news but just in case - Radiohead announced this week that they'll be selling their new album in an innovative way - by letting their fans set their own price.  Radiohead eschewed the record labels and  is offering fans the opportunity to  buy DRM free mp3's directly from their site, at whatever price they choose.  If someone wants the mp3's for free, that's fine as well.  The value of this of course is that there's no incentive to pirate music, that fans who care to support the band will be able to pay directly to the band whatever they value the music as, and the music is high quality, with no restrictions.  For the hardcore fans, Radiohead is selling a box set for $80 that includes extra tracks, a book, and a vinyl copy.
Radiohead has always done things their own way - they aren't offered in subscription services (although with this model, now why not?) for example.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, but its great to see a new business model, a new music selling model, and a forward thinking, innovative band.  Now in the comments tell me who's paying what?  Personally I would pay the amount for a CD that the artist makes when they go through a label, so if their cut is $6 out of the $12 CD cost, that seems like a fair cost.

10.01.2007

A Tour of the Flatiron District

On Sunday morning we went on a walking tour of the Flatiron District provided for free by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.  Before hand I would not have believed that I would be interested in spending 2 hours walking around just a few blocks, but it ended up being a great experience.  The tour guide kept our attention as she poured out the smallest details about nearly every building around Madison Square Park, several of which she worked in for many years.  Until this weekend it never occurred to me to consider why Madison Square Gardens is not near the park, but now I know that MSG is actually the third incarnation of the building, the first two of witch were on the park edges.  I also had no idea that Madison Square Park was once the major park in Manhattan, more than several times its current size before two major downsizes.  It's amazing how much there is to learn about the city we walk through every day, how much history and story - and I hope to do more soon.

If you want to see some shots from the tour directly on a map as we walked it, check out my whole Flickr album, and zoom in close on the map.



[where: 10010]

The Phillies Make The Playoffs!!

Phillies_standings

For the first time in 14 years (1993 when they went to the World Series behind Dykstra and Daulton) the Phillies are back in the playoffs - congratulations to an amazingly resilient and determined team.  Utley, Rollins, and Howard put up MVP caliber numbers.  Cole Hamels was a star in his first full season as a pitcher.  Burrell had a come-back second half.  The entire team is filled with players that inspire love for the game, dedication, and the will to win.  Jason Stark's ESPN article wraps it up beautifully.

http://www.thecompletepitcher.com/images/pa_jamie_moyer.jpg

And the pitcher to anchor us on the last game of the season, Jamie Moyer - 44 years old, the oldest starting pitcher in the Majors - also the only starting pitcher on the Phillies to play all season.  More importantly, he grew up a Phillies fan, he cut school on the day they had the World Series championship parade, and he's the only one on the Phillies today even old enough to remember them back in 1980.

This has been an amazing month of baseball and I can't wait for it to continue!

9.27.2007

Mark Cuban Dances With The Stars



Mark Cuban, the NBA / Internet mogul that I study religiously, made his way onto Dancing With The Stars (ABC). It's the first time I've ever wanted to catch a reality TV show, and even though I still ended up only watching it on YouTube (why can't I watch it on ABC.com ?), I was not disappointed. He definitely has a lot of fun, and will, as he always does, spice up the show like no other. In his blog post he says "since Jane Seymour is on the show (she is amazing), I promised I would try to get the Motorboat in a future routine as a tribute to her making it famous in The Wedding Crashers." That alone is worth watching the show for.

9.23.2007

My New Life Stream - Soup Tumbleblog





I have switched the life stream over from Tumblr, which worked phenomenally for me when I blogged live from the California marketing convention, to the new Soup, which copies the themes of Tumblr for tumble blogging, but offers a different customization and automation feature set. I can't speak to posting, because I haven't made any (it was extremely easy on Tumblr), but importing my postings and feeds from flickr, del.icio.us, youtube, digg, twitter, and blogger is dead simple in Soup. All you do is give your usernames for each product, and the feeds are automatically pulled in. Additionally, as the posts are made into your new tumble blog, they are tagged on the right with little icons of the imported service, so it's clear to the reader where everything came from. For my purposes now this seems like a better way to handle my life stream feeds.

Old life stream on Tumblr
New life stream on Soup

9.21.2007

Recap of Free Broadcast TV on the Web

NewTeeVee has an updated summary of where the broadcast television networks are airing their new tv shows for free. If you miss the show on TV, and don't have a DVR, you can now catch most episodes streaming for free on the web. NBC is even offering free downloads, eventually to be available for transfer onto portable video players, for one week after each episode airs.
You can also watch most of these shows via the desktop browser VeohTV, which I am a big fan of.

9.20.2007

I've been spammed !!

I'm deleting the original post but I'll copy it here.  This worries me because if the spammers got access to my Google account then they have a lot of information.  I'll monitor it closely.  I've removed all of the hyperlinks; the post was at 5:01 PM 9/19/07.

---------

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We have -

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For example,

  • Viagra - 90 pills x 100mg  $176.4. You save: $134. - order
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9.19.2007

Viewdle is Facial Recognition in Videos

New video application Viewdle is actually able to pull off significant facial recognition within video.  It takes one detailed image of a person's face and then picks out when the person appears in video.  This leads to deep tagging and rich video search.  I'm not sure whether this will be available for personal use (could they offer a browser extension where this is utilized in video we've already uploaded on YouTube, Google Video, and Facebook), but it's alive and impressive on the Reuters, allowing you to search through their video archives.

Other recent articles about facial recognition in images: Riya 1,2 (my favorite), Google, AOL

9.16.2007

the k b skobac life stream

I'm taking Last.FM out of my life stream.  Unfortunately a few hours of listening to music and I'm pages away from posts of anything but song titles.  Either Tumblr has to find a way to record batches of music that come in together (like Facebook does with del.icio.us bookmarks), or Last.FM has to provide an  RSS feed that shows something of the like.  Does anyone miss seeing the current songs I'm listening to? Any thoughts on the life stream all together?

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If you want to try Y!Mash, Yahoo!'s new social network


I just signed up for Y!Mash, the new Yahoo! Social network.  It has features from just about all of the other social networks, which you would expect from any entrant into the field at this point- News feeds from Facebook, modules from Bebo, etc.  I'm not really looking for another social network right now so the benefit is really how well this ties together yahoo features (and my existing blogs) easly - flickr, del.icio.us, y! music, etc.  If someone is interested in testing it out, let me know and I'll send an invite.  The site is in early stages, and nothing overwhelming, but it can't hurt to play around with.


Google is rumored to be coming out with a social stream that ties together the work you're doing on everything that Google owns - YouTube, Blogger, Google Docs, Picasa, etc.  If only Picasa was as strong as Flickr...

I'm not sure why Google or Yahoo! hasn't bought Twitter, either, and rolled that into a powerful blogging platform.  Right now I'm posting to Flickr, Twitter, Del.icio.us, and Blogger regularly, with other tools scattered in.  These are the best tools to chronicle day to day life, and Twitter still and leveraged.

By the way - I got my invite to Y!Mash from InviteShare, the web 2.0 beta invite sharing tool now owned by TechCrunch.  It took all of 30 seconds between me signing up and receiving the invite I wanted.

9.14.2007

kbskobac.blogspot.com on the WayBack Machine (Historical View of My Site)



I consider it somewhat of a landmark event that this blog is now being tracked on the Wayback Machine. For those who don't know, the Wayback Machine archives internet sites so you can return to a point in time and see what the site used to look like. For more significant websites, there is an archived copy multiple times a month (see ESPN back in 1998 for example). Still, I think it's pretty cool that they have archived versions of my blog on March 23 2006, July 18 2006, and November 1 2006, all three times when I was utilizing different website formats. The layout doesn't look exactly right due to images and resources being shut down since then, but you get the general idea. I guess the little I've done with this site in a few years is enough to put myself in the internet history books.