The Maybe Merry Month Of May
This first day of the month of May, popularly known as May Day, can mean different things to different people. For many, it heralds the beginning of spring, when you can finally stop running to weather.com to see if there's yet another late snowstorm coming and can start googling phrases like "weed killer" and "swimsuit sales." For others, especially if they live in some other country, or have certain political views, it means a
Mobile And Wireless Prominent In IBM's Top Five Technology Innovations
Wireless and mobility figure prominently in IBM's "Next Five in Five," a list of the top five technologies that will impact people's lives in the next five years. The results of this study come from IBM's interal research labs and think tank, as well as input from 150,000 people in 104 countries. So what are the top five technologies to look out for?
Ballmer Takes Another Swipe At Google Apps And The iPhone
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just can't resist taking shots at the iPhone. Who can blame him, the iPhone has the potential to redefine the entire handset business -- as well as position OS X as a competitor in the mobile OS market.
What's The Best Service For A First-Time Blogger?
My colleague John Foley asked for some advice on starting a personal blog. He wanted to know which software or service to use. I had two recommendations: The TypePad service if he wants to have a blog that's open to anyone, or the Vox service if he wants to control access to the blog.
Video Illustrates The Sorry State Of The Customer Service Industry Today
A company called Vocal Laboratories provides video commentary on a six-minute customer service call to Hewlett-Packard. HP treats its customer rudely, like cattle. They waste the customer's time. They make the customer sit through six minutes of silence, hold music, and pointless questions. Then they abruptly hang up on the poor guy without providing any help at all. But the most shocking thing of all is that HP is not unusual in this behavior. It's a typical call by any customer to any compan
It Depends On What The Meaning Of 'IT' Is
My colleague Michael Singer recently posted a compelling item about the work and words of Nick Carr, who burst into prominence four years ago with a Harvard Business Review article called "IT Doesn't Matter" and shortly thereafter a book with the softer title, Does IT Matter? And now Carr is about to release a followup book. I wish Nick much success with his book sales because he's a rema
In Search Of Credibility On The Web
At a recent get-together of IT community people on Microsoft's campus, the meeting started with an attempt to define Web 2.0, a term some associated with nothing more than marketing fluff. Talk turned from the medium to the message--to the content being generated by wikis, blogs, feeds, and social nets--then to a question about the people generating it all.
Ubuntu Linux Vs. Windows Vista: What Do You Think?
Popular myth -- those tidbits of received wisdom that epitomize the phrase, "Of course it's true, everyone says so!" -- is as evident in the technology community as it is in any other society. The only difference is that this particular community isn't divided by geographical location, but by language -- namely, the language that their favorite computer speaks.
The Museum of Modern Betas? Del.icio.us!
So this friend of mine wants to tell me about his new company, new product. But he's suave, he doesn't just email me, "Hey, Mr. Ur-So-Kool Press Bigshot, write me up." Instead he invites to me to connect to him on LinkedIn. Very subtle. He knows I'll backtrack his email address. I do. I find his company Web site. Product's still in the oven. Hmmm. But I also find it's listed on the
Safari Vs. Firefox On The Mac: Firefox Wins
I'm done with my fast-and-dirty evaluation of the Safari as a potential replacement for Firefox on the Mac, and I'm sticking with Firefox. Here's why I stuck with Firefox, and what I still miss about Safari.
The Two Most Useful Search Tricks I Know
I use these all day and every day. One of these tricks allows you to do a search quickly in Firefox. The other trick allows you to narrow searches down to a particular site.
Does A Job Ad Signal The Return Of The Google Phone?
Just when you thought it was safe to deny the existence of a Google Phone, more rumors stir the blogosphere. Late last week Dan Jones at Unstrung pointed out that Google posted a job ad for hardware product manager. So much for Google not getting into the hardware business. Oh, it gets better.
FON Dials It Up With Software-Only Hotspot For Mac, Linux
FON, the Spanish share-your-Internet-connection company, is moving fast this week. On Monday it announced a deal with Time Warner Cable that will officially let broadband customers do what some of them have already been doing unofficially -- set up FON routers that redistribute their Internet service via Wi-Fi. Today, FON announced software for Intel Macs and Linux boxes that does the same thing, no router required.
Is It An 'Interview' If It's Via E-Mail?
In working on my story on Wall Street's efforts to reduce data latency, I had several e-mail exchanges with a spokesperson for BATS, a very nice but not overly responsive fellow. After the story came out, he chided me for not checking the facts with him. I pointed out that in the week the story was being edited, I made several attempts to reach him by phone and by e-mail, unsuccessfully. I am reminded of this
How Does RadioShack Stay In Business?
Leave it to The Onion to ask one of the pressing questions of our time: How does RadioShack stay in business? This clever satire ponders how the age-old retailer manages to survive in the era of Best Buy and Amazon.
Too Many Writers Spoil The Story
Blogger Jason Calcanis recently refused to be interviewed over the phone by Wired contributing editor Fred Vogelstein. Calcanis prefers e-mail.
As Calcanis explained in an e-mail to Vogelstein, "I'm an email guy like dave winer.. And I own my words as well, and often print them on my blog (after stories come out)."
Building In Second Life, With Links To Web Info
I spent a pleasant hour or so last night acquainting myself with building in Second Life. I created a simple platform that floats at an altitude of 100 meters above my land. Building in Second Life is actually fairly simple in concept, and simple once you get the hang of it, but in the middle there's lots of fiddly little options to select and buttons to push and it's easy to make mistakes.
E-Mail Is Out With Today's Younger Web Users
For most of us in the business world, e-mail is an integral part of our work lives. But for the millennials -- the generation between ages 13 and 24 -- e-mail is for old people. That's right, the first form of communication that brought many of us into the online world is now as outdated as a leisure suit.
Video: "The Simpsons" Take On Google
Marge Simpson looks up her name on Google. "And all this time I thought 'Googling yourself' meant the other thing," she declares. Then she tries Google Earth. Hilarity ensues. Watch the 37-second video after the jump.
PowerPoint Rules That Could Save Our Sanity
Blogger/speaker/VC Guy Kawasaki in a speech at CA World served up a great set of to end PowerPoint insanity. When I found out his "10/20/30" rules come from a 16-month-old post on Mr. Kawasaki's blog, I worried they may be a bit stale to discuss here. Then I realized: since not one person in business yet adheres to this PowerPoint reform movement, the rules are worth sharing.
Viacom Takes Out The Wrong Garbage
Anybody who has ever worked with computers knows the old adage "garbage in, garbage out." Besides the most obvious interpretation, this phrase also expresses the truth that, in the end, it's the human element that determines the value of a computer's output. However, taking the human element out of your processes completely can also result in some very embarrassing, and costly, mistakes.
Buying Land In Second Life
At last, I bought land in Second Life to built my virtual home in. I've been shopping for more than a month, and couldn't find a tract I fell in love with. I'm still not in love with the land I bought, but I like it.
InformationWeek Shutting Down Its Second Life Office
InformationWeek shut down its office in Second Life. We're still committed to Second Life coverage. I'm still spending a couple of hours a day in Second Life. I'm still writing lots of blogs and articles out of SL. But the office just wasn't doing anything for us, so we gave it the ax.
Safari Vs. Firefox On The Mac: Which Is Better?
I switched from Firefox on the Mac to the Safari browser yesterday. So far, after a couple of hours on Safari, I'm concluding that they're both fine browsers. On the other hand, each one has limitations. I really wish there were a browser that combines the best of both.
Dell's XP Embrace: Some of The Mojo Is Back
Dell's recent management shakeup and the return of founder Michael Dell to the controls may already be paying dividends, in the form of the company's move to offer Windows XP on certain desktops - flying boldly in the face of Microsoft's Vista-and-nothing-but-Vista strategy.
Writing And Productivity Tips From Cory Doctorow
This is a little off-topic for us. Last night, I went to a talk by InformationWeek contributor, blogger, and science-fiction writer Cory Doctorow. He was speaking in his capacity as an sf writer last night, reading from and talking about his writing, and I was attending, not as a journalist, but as a friend, fa
A Hammock For Your Electronics
Because your electronics needs its beauty rest? No, it's a little doo-hickey to use when charging your gadgets at inconveniently placed electrical sockets, to keep from having to put 'em on the floor. Still: Funny.
Role-Playing In Second Life
Role-playing is one of the most popular activities in Second Life. You're basically pretending to be a fictional character. Remember when you were a kid you tied a towel around your neck and pretended to be a caped superhero? As far as I can see, role-playing in SL is like that, but geared for grownups.
A 'Most Likely to Succeed' List from the Web 2.0 Hypefest
Tim O'Reilly, who gets credit for coining "Web 2.0," has taken several whacks at defining it, and he took another one this week at his own Web 2.0 Expo this week in San Francisco: "We are talking about persistent computing in which we are becoming part of a great machine." Thanks, but if that's it, I'll pass. If you, gentle reader, on the other hand, want to plug into whatever Web 2.0 means, a ratings company called Hitwise used th
Scripting And Building In Second Life -- A Brief Video Introduction
I asked my colleagues at Dr. Dobb's Journal for some pointers to machinima resources so we can get started making our own machinima, and I was told that DDJ's Scott Swigart knows a lot about it. I found this neat video that provides a six-minute introduction to building and scripting in Second Life.
Get Your Wallet Out: App Upgrades And Music Fees
Whatever else Windows Vista does for your PC, it's not going to make the numbers on your budgetary spreadsheet any lower. Several software vendors have decided not to upgrade existing versions of their products to be Vista-compatible -- instead, they're going to reshape upcoming versions. So if you buy a Vista PC, you don't get to reinstall your existing application onto your new machine. Instead, prepare to fork out some additional cash to get the next iteration.
Tip: Use Babelfish To Translate Chat, Discussions In Real-Time
OK, probably everybody in the world already knows this, but you can use BabelFish (and other online translation services) to translate the discussion of people you encounter in Internet discussion. I generally think of BabelFish as a translation service for Web pages -- and a not-very-effective one at that -- but of course it'll work on any text.
Machinima: Making Movies Using Computer-Game Software
"Machinima" is the art of making computer animation using software from video games, rather than expensive, dedicated computer-animation software. I'm no expert on the subject, but here are some of my favorites.
Will Linden Lab's Open-Sourcing Second Life Hurt Some Of Its Biggest Customers?
Currently, Linden Lab's major revenue source is "land sales," leasing space on its servers for businesses and dedicated consumers to build property in Second Life. Many businesses derive revenue by turning around and renting property in-world. When Linden Lab open-sources the servers, land will become more plentiful and the value of land will decrease, thus diminishing the value of these "land barons'" investments.
Will Battery Life Delay The iPhone?
The iPhone rumors this week are nonstop. As if the ruckus over rebates and subsidies for the iPhone weren't enough, now an online newsletter claims that the iPhone is suffering from poor battery life, echoing an earlier rumor broken by John Dvorak two weeks ago. The poor iPhone just can't catch a break.
Linden Lab To Open-Source Second Life Servers
Linden Lab plans to open up the source code for Second Life's servers, allowing anyone to run their own version of Second Life, a company spokesman said today, confirming the widespread belief among many in the 3D community that open-sourcing the servers was inevitable.
Copyright Royalty Board Puts Internet Radio On Death Watch
The Copyright Royalty Board has quickly and completely affirmed its own decision on performance royalties, set in accordance with recording-industry wishes, that will be assessed against Internet music-streaming and radio station sites. Because the rates, which were more than a year overdue, were much higher than the Internet radio industry expected, and retroactive for 2006, one possible result is that many small Internet radio operators will cease operations immediately and wait to see if Cong