Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

How Google stole the show

July 22, 2006

My last post got me thinking about the evolution of technology, the Internet, and how Google came to steal the whole show. What follows, in short, is a history of the digital age as told by Hujo Blogger. I don’t know if it is perfectly accurate but I promise to at
least make an interesting argument.


While looking at my list of digital age technologies I realized that 10 years ago the only ones I used were a computer, the word processor, and the instant messenger. A lot has happened in the past decade and here is my explanation of what happened. There were three metrics that defined what we could and couldn’t accomplish with our computing: Processor speed, RAM, and Hard Drive. Hard drive was the one that would determine off the bat if you could or couldn’t use an application. RAM and processors determined how fast you could use something but ultimately the bottleneck was in the amount of hard drive space. Keep that thought.

The Internet hits with AOL. Eventually we realize web browsers, instant messaging, email, and ISPs are four separate things. Google comes along and makes the whole Internet thing make sense with their search. Their AdWords advertising program makes the business part make sense.

Now, in the past couple of years Google, the Internet, and the hard drive bottleneck issue came together to result in a handful of products. Because hard drive space was always the limiting factor people were always conscious of that. Hard drives were not cheap once upon a time. As a result of that, I assume companies invested a ton of R&D into creating cheap hard drives. Now desktops come standard with 100 gigs like its no problem. Nevertheless that mindset is ingrained in us. If you are a pack rat like me you cringe at the idea of having to delete pictures, papers, presentations, music, email, etc because you have to make room on your hard drive. Last November when I clicked the wrong thing in Outlook and virtually a lifetime supply of my email was deleted, I thought I was going to cry.

Google came along with GMail with three differentiating features. First it had by far and away the best user interface. Second, it was web-based so you could access email from anywhere without having to download it. Third, and what hooked us because of the mindset was the promise of 1 GB of hard drive space which within months became 2 GB.

By this time hard drives were already a relatively cheap commodity but I think that because of that mindset we were trained to jump at the chance to live as an uninhibited email pack rat. So what does Google do? They roll out web-based products (email, calendar, spreadsheets, Writely is still to come) that promise you virtually unlimited hard drive space, access from anywhere, and a friendly user interface in exchange for selling advertising around the periphery. Their bet is the cost of the physical servers that store the data will be less than the revenue they bring in from selling digital advertising.

This is exactly why I think Google will beat Microsoft. Microsoft was king of desktop based software. Google is the king of web based software. What direction do you think we are heading?

-hj

Digital Age Technologies

July 20, 2006

Mark Cuban recently blogged that the Internet is boring. His point was that people always talk about how the Internet changes the world but its not actually the Internet its the applications and services the Internet made possible. The actual innovation in terms of the Internet has been limited as he claims there has been less than 5 mbps added in the past 5 years.

I became interested in this concept and made a list of all the technologies I use in this digital age.

Web Browser Mozilla FireFox Once you dump IE and get hooked on tabs and all the keyboard shortcuts you will never go back
Email Client Gmail I can access it from anywhere, the keyboard shortcuts make it lightening quick, and the storage the allot is virtually unlimited
Cell phone/Text BlackBerry One of the few technologies on this list I actually had to pay for. Only had it for a couple weeks but I love always being connected.
Feed Reader Google Feed Reader I admittedly have not tried any of the others. Google’s seems to work well enough.
Blog WordPress I used Google’s Blogger for the first year but I like the added features in WordPress like the ability to tag posts by category
Search Google I remember using Dogpile in my MIS class senior year of HS. I don’t remember why or when I started using Google but it’s instinct now.
Photo Album Picasa One of the few desktop based software products I like. I’m not sure that it’s any better than say Flikr but it’s nice to just watch it find all the pictures I have stored on my hard drive and see them come organized to one place.
Desktop Search Google Desktop Search We have been using Windows for how long and they never thought to make something like this?
OS Windows XP although I am considering buying a Mac before Vista comes out and blows everyone’s minds
Music Player iTunes/Pandora Winamp is quicker bc its a much smaller program but Apple just figured out music software and marketing
P2P File Sharing Shareza (no illegal downloading here 😉
Instant Messaging AIM/Google Talk Google Talk is tons better, it’s web based but Instant Messaging services are only as good as the network of people that use them and right now not enough people have left the dark side.
Social Network Facebook I exist on MySpace and Friendster but I don’t use either
Web-based bookmarking del.icio.us I still admitedly don’t fully understand how to use this but I like the idea
Encyclopedia Wikipedia I find myself going more and more to Wikipedia before I go to Google because I know if the search finds a result the info is going to be much more clean and in a format that I know I can understand. Wikipedia will eventually steal a huge chunk of Google’s search.
Computer Dell Latitude Laptop considering Mac see above
Spreadsheet Excel/Google Spreadsheets Google allows me to store everything on their servers and access it from anywhere but Excel’s functionality still has it beat
Wordprocessing, Powerpoint Microsoft Office boring
Podcast Feeds iTunes
CD burning iTunes
Fantasy Sports Yahoo! altho thinking we might should check out ESPN’s this year guys, maybe draft in both leagues and get in and get a feel for ESPN then make a decision
Mapping Google Maps Until other services align with search engines and make their maps dragable there will be no competition
Calendar Google Calendar Very user friendly, Text Message alerts are great as are daily emails with that day’s agenda
Mobile MP3 player Rio Nitrus Very, very old school but for whatever reason the iPod doesn’t excite me. Mostly because its not free.
Can you think of any that I missed or are there technologies that I don’t use that I am missing out on?

-hj

This happens all the time

July 8, 2006

I feel like this happens all the time. People don’t understand business nor do they understand the democratizing power of choice so they panic, act selfishly and hypocritically, and run to the government for help. Most recently this overblown panic has been in the form of Net Neutrality. That may or may not ring a bell but either way it is important and could DRAMATICALLY change they way you use the internet.

I went nuts on YouTube one day and watched a few dozen YouTube videos of vblogs and TV shows debating Net Neutrality. Rocketboom’s vblog breaks down the issue best. I was pretty sure where I stode on the issue but after finding out Moby was spear-heading the campaign to legislate Net Neutrality I was positive I knew where I stood. Sometimes people can do a campaign a disservice by offering their support. For instance when Democrats support the cause of gay marriage it creates a knee jerk reaction because this is the same group whose morality supports partial birth abortions and assisted suicide.

For those of you too lazy to watch the videos Net Neutrality is the concept that the internet should be a place where people are free to go wherever they want, whenever they want essentially for no added price. Sounds to good to be true right? Well thats why TelComs are attempting to stick it to people by pushing to block certain sites, align with certain sites, and create bottlenecks to tax internet users. Do they have the right to do that? ABSOLUTELY!

The Internet does not just exist, companies had to invest money to make it work. They had to take risks and lay cable under neighborhoods and across oceans and do all kinds of things that most people do not appreciate. In the end the lines that connect my computer to yours is a business. However they want to procede in their operation of that connection is their business and they should be allowed to make that connection as uncomfortable as they want, its just bad business.

People are lazy and they would rather spend energy bitching and creating media to bitch then to exercise choice. Slavery ended nearly 150 years ago and we live in a free society, ACT LIKE IT. You do not have to have the internet and you do not have to use a certain company for your ISP.

See 99% of people look at issues like this and think ‘how does this affect me’ instead of ‘what is right’? How does it affect me? It sucks. It sucks big time. But that doesn’t make it right for me to demand the government take away a company’s rights to act as stupidly as they want. See the main reason I don’t think this is really an issue at all is say Washington allows TeleComs to tax and screen the internet. All that means is someone is going to get rich. VERY RICH. Because a handful of entrepreneurs will wet their pants and will work day and night to create the newest truly neutral network that enables internet users like we are accustomed. And then the choice will not be a choice at all.

Last year I saw this very same thing happen in Austin except the government did step in and stick it to the businesses. Austin was debating passing a law to outlaw smoking in bars and restaraunts. I thought this was totally bogus. If I had invested however much money for a primo spot on Sixth Street to set up a bar and I want to allow people to perform an act that is perfectly legal as long as they are of age then I should be able to do that. What was most hypocritical was that they didn’t outlaw drinking. I am not sure that anyone has been killed by a driver under the influence of a cigarette. All of that on top of the fact that Austin is a grunge hippie city and while that is not my thing I respect that.

So the people won and smoking is out. Its weird because I hate being around smokers so in that regard it is a dream come true. But was it the right thing to do? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Why should I demand to have rights in a private establishment? If I walked in to your house and told you that I didn’t like having the TV on MTV because it was bad for my health because it makes my blood pressure rise you could/should tell me to get lost.

If you don’t like that a bar is too smokey I have a great solution for you. DON’T GO. Exercise your choice to go to bars that aren’t smokey and guess what people will recognize that. If smoking is such an issue that it drives people away then there would be a market for bars that don’t allow smoking.

Things will work out in the long run if you exercise choice but the last thing we need is more government.

-hj

Don’t get left out of the future

June 10, 2006

Almost two years ago I was making an argument to a buddy of mine but I wasn't aware of the term that encapsulated the idea I had in my head. We were discussing Texas football and I was making the argument that the program could do a much better job of turning lemons into lemonade. Everyone always jokes about how critical Texas fans are of their football and how willing they are to lend their opinions. Well as a result the contribution of fan ideas are very inaccessible to the program. Well the term I was looking for I now have learned was Web 2.0 and the organizations and individuals who embrace it will be successful.

It is my prediction that success in the future will be as a result of accessibility, transparency, and accountability. These three things can come easily and cheaply in the form of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 isn't an actual thing it's a term to describe the second wave of web services and a truly web-based community. Think about what things are exploding right now. Social networks like MySpace and Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, and podcasts. User created content that is made available through interconnected web communities. This is how society communicates and entertains itself now.

I've been reading a corporate blog lately by a guy who runs a company that specializes in helping companies get started with employee blogs. While employee blogs are a PR nightmare in terms of liability they are provide credible insight and personality. Companies like Microsoft, Boeing, GE, Google, and Sun now all have employee blogs in some form or another.

I have two examples of instances where individuals and organizations have embraced this Web 2.0 type environment. The first, as sacrilegious as this is to type, is Texas A&M's AD Bill Byrne. Byrne isn't really an Aggie, he just got the job a couple years ago out of Nebraska, so I have never really felt bad for secretly liking him. I'm still a huge DeLoss Dodds fan and he owns Byrne on the field but Byrne kicks Dodds' ass as far as Web 2.0 is concerned.

When Byrne got to A&M he started Bill Byrne's Wednesday Weekly. Now the website is a piece of shit and those farmers don't know to call it or format it as a blog but the concept and content are right. In a post a couple years ago Byrne responded to emails from Aggies who wanted to paint the stands at Kyle field maroon and they wanted the situation with the orange, GOD FORBID, Gatorade jugs on the sideline fixed. He acknowledged receiving the emails and then responded to both explaining to those idiots exactly why they wouldn't do either. Fair enough. In his latest post he open's up the books to the athletic department and discloses their budget, actual expenses, and actual revenue.

My second example is with Mark Cuban. He makes himself very easily accessible via email which he uses religiously. I've emailed him a couple of times and he generally responds within hours, pretty impressive. When he didn't pony up the dough for Nash he went on his blog and explained why. When he made the decision to use the amnesty clause and cut Finley last summer he explained to his customers essentially why he made that decision. When Kenny and Charles ripped the Mavs for how they defended the Suns pick-and-roll on opening night, Cuban went on his blog and broke down the percentages of how teams had defended Phoenix and what their actual rate of success was.

Accessible, transparent in your decisions, and accountable for the decisions you make. Mack Brown is always very accountable for what happens on the field and I love that about him. But as far as the program and the department on the whole are concerned, how about some insight into their philosophy behind stadium expansion. How about some insight into what the hell is going on with Texas-OU in Dallas. How about some insight into why guys are jumping ship on the men's basketball team.

The era of secret decision-making is over. Web 2.0 will leave those behind. Everyone talks a big game about how they're dedicated to their customers but then they refuse to get feedback from them and deny them communication. And I'll leave you with this thought. For the most part I kept this post light heartened in discussing Web 2.0 in the context of sports programs.

What do you think is the future of these 3 traits in politics? There will always be areas where secrecy is a must (national defense) but everything else is fair game.

*Cue Washington bumrushing WordPress.com*

-hj

Pandora.com

May 1, 2006

Pandora.com is the new biggest thing you can tell everyone you heard it here first. Pandora.com is going to be bigger than Napster, bigger than Kazaa, this is going to be huge. Last week my brother sent me an email about a website that allows you to create your own radio station. I looked into it and what I discovered was the smartest innovation I have seen in a long time. (more…)

DVR, TiVo and the future of TV

March 22, 2006

At the beginning of the fall semester I decided it was time I had to get a DVR. My roomate and I split the cost which is a whooping $7/month. It has probably been the best investment I have ever made and I will never be able to live without one again. My parents have satellite and they get free PVR with their service, basically the same thing. That is where I first learned about it while living at home during breaks. I am not going to try and sell you on its greatness. If you don't already know you will soon enough.

(more…)

Redbox: The Attack on Blockbuster

August 2, 2005

Earlier this summer I was walking into a McDonalds for lunch and I noticed a huge red box, sort of like a vending machine, just to the side of the door as you walk in. It advertises itself as renting DVDs at $1/day. It looked pretty shady at first but the more I looked into it the more ingenious I realized it was.

The way it works is you scan your credit card or debit card. From a touch screen you select a DVD from a list of 40 new releases that gets updated every Tuesday. You can select as many as you want. If you return it by 10pm the next day the cost is a whooping $1+tax. You pay a dollar a day plus tax for every day you keep it up to 25 days at which point you have bought yourself a $25 DVD. Once you return the movie the box emails you a receipt and charges your card.

If you are like me when you go to rent a movie it’s because you are planning on watching it that night. By the next day it has already served its purpose so the 3 or 5 day rental they charge you more for is all for not. Or say you do plan to keep it for 3 days. Find me a Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, etc where you can get a 3 day new release rental for 3 bucks. Another convenience is, unlike Blockbuster, you can return it to any Redbox location.

All of this out of an automated box. It's open 24 hours a day, all the costs of employee's wages, benefits, etc do not drive up the cost bc they don't exist. Redbox started last summer in Denver. They setup 105 locations around the city almost exclusively outside McDonalds. In less than 6 months they rented 1.7 million DVDs. 105 locations… 1.7 million DVDs. That’s impressive. That all started last June. Here we are its August 2005 and they have 1,200 locations across the country. They've grown 10 fold and expanded to 7 cities stretching coast to coast in one year.

So I started looking into the cities where they expanded. Vegas, Hartford and D.C. have a total of 37 between them. On the other hand Salt Lake City, Houston, and Minneapolis all now have hundreds. I found it weird they chose these cities. No New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Boston, etc. Hartford, Connecticut? I don't get it.

So then I start thinking it obviously has little to do with the city's population. I have narrowed it down to two factors. Factor #1 fat cities. Houston for the 4th time in the past 5 years was named the fattest city in the US. I have to believe there is a strong correlation between a fat city and the amount of traffic the average McDonalds gets. Factor #2 movie watching (renting) cities. I can't find any rankings as far as what cities rent the most movies but would it shock you that people in Minnesota rent and watch a lot of movies during those killer winters?

What I'm thinking is they chose cities and locations where they can make the quickest return on the investment they made in buying all the equipment that goes into the redbox and all the DVDs. That way the will be able to continue to grow quickly and won't run into cash problems.

My next question is who is paying who. Does Redbox pay McDonalds to set up shop on their property so they can take advantage of the customers the golden arches bring in? Or is it McDonalds who pays Redbox because every time a Redbox is installed outside the number of Big Macs they sell notches up? I am willing to bet it's Redbox who is shelling out the cash but if this idea really explodes maybe that should be reversed or at least an equal partnership should form.

Once upon a time it was Blockbuster who had the innovative business model and ran the movie rental industry. Ironically, it will be the innovative business models of Netflix and Redbox that run them out of town.

hj

Accountability of the Elected

July 22, 2005

So I was recently reading an article on Foxnews.com about the House of Representatives approving the reauthorization of the USA Patriot and Terrorism Prevention Act. Your views on that subject are irrelevant, my point is not to talk about the act rather the article and more particularly a function in the article.

About two paragraphs into the article there is a link in red that says "Click here to see how your representative voted". I think this is a very useful function that should be incorporated more in online news websites to increase the accountability of elected officials and to increase people's awareness of what the officials they elected are doing, or NOT doing. Actually I can't brag on it too much yet because the link tried to send me to http//*the website* instead of http://*the website* but I could type in the missing colon to get it to send me to the right place.

Anyways, before my liberal friends start hooting and hollering about how biased Fox News is, the link sends you to an 100% objective page hosted by the House of Representatives. If you ever for whatever reason wanted to go to that page the address is very complicated… House.gov.

What I think is the coolest thing about this function is that the page it send you to is written in XML. Most people have probably heard of HTML but XML can be much more useful to automate the creation of web pages using a standard format and pulling information from a database. The standard format in short shows the bills name, the date and time the vote occurred, a table with the breakdown of ayes and noes from republicans, democrats, and independents, and then a list of representatives' names who voted aye, noe, or did not vote. So say a bill is voted on today all of those numbers and names will be entered in a database and a webpage will be automatically generated to be linked to news websites for the purpose of informing the public and holding parties and representatives accountable.

The reason I think that this may be worth the trouble is that people do read the news, and with the internet becoming more a part of our lives people read the news on the internet. Very, very few people are going to go out of their way to go to the House website or the website of their rep to investigate how someone voted on an issue. However, if someone, while reading an article about an issue they are passionate about(abortion, anti-terrorism acts, tax reform, social security, affirmative action, etc) runs across a link to open a window where they can quickly find out how their rep voted I think there is a chance they may take advantage of that. I am not delusional thinking that everyone who reads any news article concerning legislation is going to double check how their rep voted, those who do will be rare but even if a VERY small percentage do check then that will be a great increase from those who went through all the trouble and leg work before.

While I don't expect it to catch on in a huge way, I do think it would be a habit that America would benefit from in the long run. I also think it is a noble step on the behalf of news agencies, in this case Fox News, to try and better inform the public of the cold hard facts involving their elected officials. If every time a controversial issue came up that you read about on the internet you checked your rep, when election time comes around you would have a much better feel of who that person is rather than just listening to both sides spin the crap out of the other guy's record until you have no idea who either guy is or what they stand for. In my case I clicked on the link and checked out Lamar Smith and saw that he voted Aye to reauthorize the Patriot Act. I gave him a little check plus in the back of my mind.

"The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch." -Michael Armstrong

Check your rep:
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll414.xml

hj

Cars for the future

May 2, 2005

In my engineering communications class I recently saw a presentation about hybrid cars. As the owner of a gas guzzling V8 SUV I will not try to convince anyone that I am overly worried about the environmental impact of our cars. However, I do find these hybrid cars very interesting from an engineering and economic perspective and I do believe that alternative energy cars are the future of the automotive industry.

His presentation was more concerned with the environmental impact of our increasing energy demands in the transportation sector. One of his solutions was to create a gas tax similar to those already in place in Europe that would double or triple the price of gas. At the price gas is currently at there is not an economic incentive to buy hybrid cars. Sure you get more miles to the gallon but hybrids on the average cost $3,000 more. Even if you drive 100,000 miles you will not make that back in saved gas money. However, if pump prices go up that closes the gap on the time it takes to recover that $3,000 investment.

This all sounds good in theory and my Business Law professor sent us an email earlier in the semester with a very similar solution. This plan is of good intentions but I don't believe it would work for practical purposes.

First, this administration could never implement a policy like this for two reasons. One, they are committed to providing people tax relief and this would be a hypocritical step backwards. Two, Bush is already viewed as not being sensitive enough to the needs of low to middle income families and doubling or tripling the price of gas would cream them. Not all people have the ability to go out and buy a new hybrid car just because legislation passed to make it nearly impossible to drive their current car. Yea, sure, they could take the bus but many cities in this country, and nearly all rural areas, do not have the setup to make this practical. There is a certain amount of freedom in owning a car and forcing people to ride the bus rids them of that.

Second, how would you implement this tax increase? Would it be a one time jump from currently around $2 to $4 or $6? Or would it be a gradual increase that would occur over time?

Again, the sudden jump would not only cream the low to middle income families but also the Automotive and Oil companies. Yes, car companies are slowly making the move to hybrid but the key word there is SLOWLY. The sudden jump would cause the small supply of hybrids out there to cost through the roof. The demand for regular cars currently in the development stages, release stages, and the thousands sitting around in lots waiting to be sold would take a huge hit. The tax increase on gas would most obviously hit oil companies the hardest. Two thirds of petroleum use is in transportation. The oil industry is the biggest industry in this country and in a recovering economy a hard hit to needy area is the last thing we need. Cutting jobs and revenues in oil and gas companies is not the answer.

So the best solution is a gradual tax increase on the price of gas, right? According to the presentation the average fuel economy of cars increased from 14.1 mpg in 1979 to 21.5 mpg in 1997. Since 1997 fuel economy has slowly declined to 20.8 mpg. From 1997 the average gas price increased from $1.16 to $1.89 in 2003 and on to the over two dollars now. Car companies are smart and they have been in business for a long time. They are going to give the consumers what they want. Since gas prices began skyrocketing the fuel efficiency of cars has gradually decreased and demand for inefficient SUV's has gone through the roof. Half of new cars bought now are SUV's. What this means to me is that slowly increasing prices at the pump do not make gas efficiency the determining factor in what car they buy. I don't see a slow tax increase changing buying habits unless they came out and said we will be gradually taxing gas until the cost is X by Y year. In this case people would have a time frame and could see where the prices were going. But, similar to the sudden increase, there would be a lot of public outcry against this and it would be political suicide for the politicians involved.

At the beginning I said I believed hybrid cars were the future. This conclusion is not as a result of the threat of a hands-on taxing program that expands the role of government in our every day lives. I believe this because hybrid cars are getting smarter. Honda did a disservice to all proponents of alternative fuel cars. They came out with the Honda Insight, which was one of the first hybrids on the road. The reason I call it a disservice: the car was WEIRD (http://www.automobilemetro.com/2004/honda-insight.jpg). When people envisioned hybrid cars they envisioned people driving ugly tiny spaceship looking cars with the rear wheel half covered.

I read in Car and Driver that last year 40,000 hybrids sold and next year it will be around 90,000. The reason… hybrids are cool now. Not the hybrid under-the-hood part, but the looks part. They are coming out with normal looking cool cars in hybrid version. The Accord and many other sedans have hybrids. More importantly to me and many other car consumers, they now have hybrid SUVs. The Ford Escape, Lexus RX, even Chevy's Silverado have hybrids. The hybrid Tahoe comes out in 2007 and two other SUV hybrids are coming out next year. These hybrids will sell not because of gas prices but because they are cool cars that perform better. These hybrids provide better horsepower, better 0-60, better handling because of the weight of the battery in the floor board, better range(read less frequent fill ups), and most obviously better miles per gallon. A friend of mine, Mechanical Engineer, who graduated last May helped develop regenerative braking as part of his senior design project. This system uses the resistance provided by coiling the motor to brake and in turn braking charges the battery. Capturing this energy to use later is much more efficient than just lossing it to heat loss. Oh yea, one other tidbit about hybrids, they have better city mpg than highway.

Hold off on your tax hikes the revolution of the automotive industry will be here soon enough.

hj

GOOGLE is the shit

April 12, 2005

Over Christmas break I watched a special on Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the creators of Google, on I believe it was 60 minutes. For those of you who don't know Google began as a research project in the 90s when Page and Brin were Ph.D. candidates at Stanford. They both dropped out of school to start Google which is now worth $50 Billion in stock and Page and Brin are worth $7.2 Billion each. They clearly have a monopoly on search satisfying an estimated 80% of search requests everyday. Bill Gates and his Microsoft empire recently declared war on them after losing an attempt to buy them out and now has released his own version of MSN search.

The fact that two 31 year old guys, who look like they could still be in school, are knocking heads with the richest man in the history of the planet instantly brings them a certain factor of likeability. Their dedication to innovation is awesome and their business model is very 'consumer' friendly.

I say it is consumer friendly because all of their 'products' search, news, and email are free to use. They do not make their dough off the average Joe, rather they create incredibly useful tools that create tons of traffic. Where there is tons of traffic big dollar corporations will pay to be. So essentially, the people get state of the art technology for free and Google floats the bill to the Big Wig Corporations.

Since dominating search they have continued to grow with things like Google News (news.google.com) which keeps an up to the minute page of news sources around the web and automatically arranges them to present the most relevant news first in an objective neutral way. In a day when it seems all of our news is being spun to satisfy the bias of the broadcaster this becomes a very valuable resource.

They also have broken into email in a big way with Gmail. They give you over 2 gigabytes of storage which is the best among free email accounts to my knowledge.

They have promised a future in Text Messaging offering countless amounts of information anywhere your phone can travel. Soon you will be able to get up to the second Stock prices off the ticker by TMing 46645(GOOGL) with the ticker symbol.

But their coolest technology yet which they released last Monday is Google Maps (maps.google.com). Google bought Keyhole who owns the rights to Satellite photographs of EVERYWHERE in the United States. This thing is the coolest toy ever. I could spend an entire day thinking of places in the US to view. The default for everyone is your home address. After a quick search and a couple seconds of orienting yourself and zooming in you can find a birds eye view of your house from what seems like a few hundred feet. Baseball and Football stadiums look badass.

Google hopes to update the images so that all areas will have an image taken in the past 6 months. And its not only satellite maps, they also do directions and their search is much more advanced than any other.

Move over Mapquest, the Google boys are coming through.

hj

The Bone Headedness of the Music Industry

January 15, 2004

Ok, let me start by saying that my knowledge and interest in the music industry is very minimal. However, I do not believe that this industry is as complicated as it appears to be and to put it bluntly I feel that they got what they deserved in a sense by getting creamed by the current mp3 downloading frenzy.

First off let me say that I do believe that downloading music is stealing just as recording songs off that radio onto a tape was stealing previous to the development of digital music. That being said I will admit that I currently have over 1,800 mp3s on my computer.

In my opinion the artists and recording industry more importantly got what they deserved when they lost millions to the invention of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks such as Napster, Kazaa, WinMX, etc. The reason: they were not cutting edge and they refused to adapt. Basically all they have down is bitch, moan, protest, form alliances, and file lawsuit upon lawsuit to try to fix the problem. They should have seen this coming. Ever since the Internet boom of the late 90s everyone and their dog started to noticed how quickly digital information can be shared and transmitted. How long did they think it was going to be before their digitally recorded music recorded to CDs was spreading like wild fire for FREE? Right now the intrinsic value of buying a CD rather than just downloading all the songs on a CD is very minimal. The movie industry was much smarter. First off DVDs cannot be ripped near as easily as CDs can. Second, buying a DVD has more intrinsic value than downloading it because most DVDs these days come with a second disc of outtakes, the storyline of producing the movie, interviews, etc.

I consider myself an optimist and I always try to make the best of a situation. If I was an artist I would have adapted by saying screw the recording industry. I would have seen that this incredible spread of free digital music could be used to my advantage. These artists claim they lost millions due to this piracy, right? Well why not invest a few thousand dollars on a room full of CPUs that all have internet access and have every Kazaa, Napster, WinMX known to man. And these CPUs would have every one of your songs and various versions and remixes of your song open to easy FREE downloading. The point is you open up your music to free downloading and it spreads like wild fire. Bingo, free exposure and promotion of your music. Now the key is to alter your business model. You make your coin off tours, appearances, posters, autograph sessions, T-shirts, clothing lines, acting in movies, starring in TV shows, and you forget about record sales. The Recording Industry is a scam. They just wait till someone blows up, they get them to sign a contract, and then they take an enormous cut of the profits. Screw that, if I was doing all the work but just getting a cut I would find a way to cut them out of the loop.

Rappers have caught onto this idea somewhat. Ludacris, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, DMX, and Ja Rule have all appeared or starred in Movies such as Fast and Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, 8 Mile, Training Day, Half Baked, The Wash, and Exit Wounds. Snoop had his own TV show on MTV as do many other black entertainers such as Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, DL Hugley, Bernie Mac, etc.

Making your product free is the secret to making money in the 21st Century. Think of the Network Television and Radio Industries. Both of these industries provide their service for free. How do they make their money? Advertising. Advertising is the key to making money on the Internet. If I was an artist I would have my own website where you could read my biography, download my music for free, find info about my shows, buy concert tickets, posters, clothing, and the more traffic I have the more advertisers are going to pay me to put their logo or website link on my page. So it’s not your fans that are paying your salary it’s a community effort from all the high dollar corporations out there trying to get noticed.

Some artists complain that they don’t like the idea of going independent because they don’t enjoy business side of it and they are not good at the promotion and accounting side of the business. I have two things to say to that. One, fine then hire a friend or manager that you can trust and have him do it for a cost. Or two, if you don’t like to think of it as a business then don’t make it your career; make your music a hobby.

While I do think it is wrong to download music, I get very frustrated when artists cry about not being able to do what they used to do, which was just, sit back and collect checks. For goodness sake be innovative. Think, if you were the first to take these steps you would get press just for your actions regardless if your music were chic. I am sorry that you have to actually work now but if you would stop bitching for a minute and take a few courses of action you could go straight to the top and bring the wave of the future.

“Change is inevitable”