RossCode Weekly #020

posted on 2005-10-01 at 08:32:04 by Joel Ross

Download this episode | Subscribe to RossCode Weekly?| (206) 424-4RCW

Welcome to RossCode Weekly. Nothing major this week, but there was enough to keep me busy.

Remember last week when I said that Apple's CEO said that Intel-based Macs will be out by June next year? That may not be the case. Apple wants two particular chips, and Intel says they won't be ready until the third quarter of 2006. It sounds like Apple is trying to apply pressure on Intel to speed up the process?- which shows Apple's arrogance in my mind. How do you plan to pressure Intel when a company like Dell sells more units than Apple by far? Of course, Apple could be planning to launch with a different chip initially, but then you have to question buying one when they first come out - if you know they've been planning the whole migration for a certain chip, and that chip will be out in a few months, are you going to buy one with a less than optimal chip? Apple probably will be ok though - most end users don't pay attention to those types of things!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I talked about an Apple phone??I mentioned that one?of the killer features would be being able to download directly to the phone. Well, we're not quite there yet, but someone in Germany is saying he has a copy of?iTunes for Windows Mobile 5.0. Now, it's definitely an unconfirmed rumor, and some are questioning if this even sounds valid - remember, they limited Motorola severely with the ROKR phone - no direct download and a song limit.

Speaking of Motorola and Apple, they're having a little lovers quarrel. First, the Motorola CEO was upset because the Nano got more fan fare than his phone. It sounds like he's mouthing off because Apple's a little high maintenance. Imagine that! Didn't that seem pretty obvious before Motorola got involved with Apple? So what does a high maintenance company do when fired upon? Fire back. But not just at Motorola - no, they take on the whole convergence market place. And I quote, "Is there a toaster that also knows how to brew coffee?" Speaking of the Nano, there have been many reports of the screen being too easy to scratch or crack. Apple says it's a production error, and it only affects .1% of customers. Well, they must be selling a lot, because the reports are all over the place!

By the way, I looked for a toaster that could make coffee, and I couldn't find one. But if there was one, I would buy it. If I drank coffee.

Once again, Google is the big news maker. We'll save that for last again, but we'll tease you with a highly suspect rumor first. Could?Google be planning to buy Slashdot? If Google wants an anti-propaganda wing, then Slashdot would be the perfect fit - just about every post's comments turns into an opportunity to bash?Microsoft. Now, there's two sides to this rumor. First, wouldn't Google have to buy the whole OSTG network? Would they sell Slashdot off as a separate entity? Maybe. With the "new media" of blogs, Slashdot's traffic generation isn't quite what it used to be. Most big stories show up on Digg before they make it to Slashdot, and you'll find them in the blogosphere even faster. So maybe they are for sale. As for Google wanting to buy them, well, that's still unlikely.

Let's revisit VoIP. We talk about what's going on there just about every week, don't we? That's because there's a lot going on there right now. This week, despite speculation that selling would be a better move, Vonage is moving forward with their IPO. This sounds like one of two things to me. Either they need money now, and don't want to wait for the smart move (which may not be the smart move. Who knows!), or they have?a buyer who's interested but stalling, and this is a move to motivate them. Oh yeah - two more things related to Vonage. First, the FCC has (again) extended the deadline for 911 support. If you're using VoIP as your sole form of phone, and you don't have 911 service, you're playing with fire (potentially literally!). Second,?Vonage is estimated to be worth about $1,500,000,000. Not quite the $4,100,000,000 that Skype demanded.

Speaking of $4,000,000,000, that's apparently how much Microsoft has lost on XBox hardware. That's a lot of money, and at least some of it was supposed to be made up on software sales. Of course, you have to know that there was planned losses in order to gain market share from the Playstation, but did they expect to lose this much? Microsoft has (reportedly) $40,000,000,000 in cash reserves, so they can afford it, but if you have $10,000 in savings, would you want to throw away $1,000 of it?

More Microsoft. Did you feel the earth chill on Monday? That's because hell froze over, and Palm released a new version of the Treo that runs Windows Mobile 5.0. Palm just recently got out of the operating system business, but did Access, who bought it,?expect that Palm would do their part to help kill the operating system? I guess this makes sense for Palm though?- they need to protect their devices from changes. If Access changes the operating system, or drops it altogether, Palm needs to have options. I'd say Windows Mobile 5.0 is a pretty safe bet that it'll be around for a while.

This week is Microsoft's MVP summit in Redmond. They're getting to see some cool stuff - I need to become an MVP! - and the report is that one of the things they'll get is Office 12 - pre beta. What about the rest of us? No, we won't get to play with the new bits, but we can look at the pretty pictures from PDC, or we can just get the next service pack for Office 2003. It's not quite as exciting, but there's a?new Outlook spam filter, and support for Visual Studio 2005. WSS service pack 2 was released at the same time, which is starting to show that the Office System model is already in full swing. As for getting our hands on the Office 12 beta, it's possible that it could still be coming this year.

But what if you don't want to use Outlook. There's always Thunderbird. I can hear you now though. What about calendaring? Well, the Mozilla foundation has released a roadmap for Lightning. What's Lightning? It's a calendaring application, and will be part of the whole Mozilla suite. It's scheduled to be released in November, although not version 1.0. It'll be?0.1. Speaking of the Mozilla suite, Firefox turned three. And they've undergone three name changes in that time. Phoenix. Firebird. Firefox.

Who else had a birthday? Google. They turned 7, and to celebrate, they talked about how their index is three times as big as Yahoo's, and at the same time, said index size doesn't matter. And they're right - it's relevancy, but that's not the point they made - they say they count different, so it's apples and oranges. Lost in the shuffle is that Eric Schmidt talked about the birthday and the whole index thing with C|Net. Yup, that's right. Google's boycott of C|Net is over. I guess seven is the age you mature...

I mentioned earlier that Mozilla was launching a calendar. Then I talked about Google. Doesn't a calendaring application?seem like a good fit for them? Apparently?Google may think so too. While the calendaring side is interesting, what's really interesting is what happens when you go to Yes, the domain is live, which is the way Google typically does things - was available before Google Talk went live - but it usually redirects to google's home page. But this time, it redirects to Google's personalizeable homepage. I'm sure that means something.

Anyway, Yahoo didn't just sit back this week either. Not only do they applaud Google for stopping the whole index size thing, but Yahoo's Desktop Search left beta this week.?It has something the others don't have: LiveWords. Or, in terms most would understand: search relevancy. Highlight a term, do a search, and you get relevant results.

Back to Microsoft for a quick hit. They've put their name behind HD-DVD?along with Intel. In case you're not up on your Hi-Def DVD format wars, there's two. Blu-Ray, a Sony format, and HD-DVD, a Toshiba format. Background: Toshiba won the format wars for the original DVD, and Sony wasn't happy. And I'm sure Sony wasn't real happy about the whole betamax thing either. Maybe they feel they're due for a win? Do a little research, and you'll see a sizeable following behind each. This weeks' Engadget podcast even talked about it (22 minute mark), and it's an interesting listen because it was before the Microsoft/Intel support was announced, and they made it sound like Blu-Ray was winning the war. Now that two big players have weighed in, this changes things. What's interesting is that a few major?PC makers are on the Blu-Ray side (Dell and HP), but what happens if Microsoft doesn't support Blu-Ray in Vista? Will that change their position, given that they'll either have to change operating systems or support HD-DVD as well? I wasn't interested in this fight until I heard it on the Engadget show, but this is pretty interesting to watch this unfold!

This, by the way, is another example of Microsoft taking direct aim at a competitor. Sony is pushing Blu-Ray big time - it's?going to be in the PlayStation 3, and Microsoft is, once again, in direct opposition to their position. The new Microsoft is looking more and more aggressive!

Did you see that Microsoft launched their own ad network this week? It's not what I first thought - I thought it was going to be like Google's Adsense or Yahoo's Publisher Network. I'm?sure that's coming (maybe later this month), but this is?more like AdWords, or what Overture offered before Yahoo snatched them up - priority ads on search results based on keywords. Except Microsoft takes it a step further - ads are supposed to be based on age, sex and location. That's coming with Google, I'm sure. They could do that now using their VPN service.

Speaking of the VPN service - a quick little point about it. You don't necessarily need Google's client installed. You can connect to their servers using a standard PPTP VPN connection. That means you can use a Mac to connect to GoogleNet. Speaking of GoogleNet, could it be in New York now too? That would be the obvious places to start - big cities. So far, that's San Francisco, New York and London. But nothing's been confirmed though, right? Well, not exactly. Google has come forward and said they plan to offer all of San Francisco 300 Kbps wireless service.

But some fear GoogleNet. Not because of the security though. Some fear Google because they could become too fierce a competitor for other search players. By Google tracking everything you do and where you spend your time, they can start to tune the search engine to be better. More relevant. And that's a good thing, unless you're building a search engine and your name isn't Google.?And as expected, Google will use this as a nice test of how location based services can work.

While we're on GoogleNet, they seem to be on the verge of providing 100% connectedness. So what's missing? Before, it was "how do you get online?" Now that we have that answered (we're assuming of course), the next question is how do we get a computer in everyone's hands. Well, MIT is looking at providing $100 laptops. And guess who's a sponsor? That's right. Google.

Remember last week when I mentioned Google TV? Well, this isn't quite it, but Google Video made a deal with UPN to show Chris Rock's new show for a week. I've long maintained that the future of TV is not what we see today. I see a future where shows will be released at a certain time. If you're impatient, you watch them as they're broadcast. If you want to wait, you watch it on demand. There's already something like this out there: Rent My DVR. It's not quite the same, but you request a show and if someone else has it recorded, you can get it. It's not network-supported, which this kind of thing will be some day. Then,?you'll probably?subscribe to a show and download it as it's released. Sounds a lot like RSS enclosures, doesn't it? A bit heavy on bandwidth though.

How do you solve bandwidth problems? BitTorrent. And they recently got $8,750,000 in investments. What will the money go to? Remember, BitTorrent isn't exactly known for it's legit uses. Maybe they plan to change that, and they could team with Google to offer quick downloads for Google Video.

Back to the DVR stuff. Could TiVo rebound? Well, maybe not. They've taken (and are still taking) quite a bit of flack over the service contract, but maybe what they need is a fresh start in another country. How about Canada? That's right, now?you can?record Hockey Night?in Canada! Maybe the hockey lockout is what prevented this from happening sooner!

One more quick DVR-type hit, and then we'll move on. The Dish Network is offering portable media devices that can download TV shows from satellites. It's not streaming, but the more and more I get used to my DVR (especially now that I have a dual tuner one), the less I care about streaming. And think about what I said above - you subscribe to a show and you get it when it's released. With this, you could subscribe to a show and when it's ready, your portable media device downloads it and you can watch it once it's there. Yes, it's not built for sporting events, but for most TV shows (or movies), this would work. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to download four or five shows ahead of time for a long car trip?

Back to?Google, the rumors are heating up about Google's PayPal killer. This time, it's coming from a CEO who says Google has approached his company to use the service. There's still no confirmation that this is real, and there are reasons that this may not make sense. eBay is one of Google's largest advertisers - you better hope you're successful if you plan to compete with your number one advertiser. On the other hand, eBay relies heavily on Google too, so they need each other. The question is who needs who more? If Google were to lose AOL, would that change the relationship?

How about another player in the online payment game? Enter PayGoose. They're set to launch November 1st, and they say they'll do the one thing that PayPal has caught flack for - freezing accounts for allegedly suspicious activity - even when the activity is very public and not suspicious. PayGoose:?We're just like PayPal, but without the standards.

One more Google rumor. They're searching for partners to supply Google with Classifieds. Remember, first and foremost, Google is in the advertisement business. This is just one more avenue for them to generate revenue.

As if there wasn't enough going on in Mountain View, Google signed a deal to share technology and R & D with NASA. Remember how gmail was launched around April Fool's Day and everyone thought it was fake, but it wasn't? Well, they also posted about hiring for their lunar facility. That was supposed to be the prank, but maybe it actually was real!

Ok. This is the last Google item this week. I missed the lawsuit against them last week by the Authors Guild. Remember, back in August, Google said they're going to hold off Google Print until November so authors could opt out. Well, the Authors Guild thinks authors should opt-in, and to tell Google that, they're suing them. The problem is Google seems protected under fair use. And some are questioning the Guild's tactics - they're suing on behalf of all authors, even though authors weren't given the change to opt-in or opt-out of the suit.

Let's finish up the Microsoft news for the week. First, the MSN Search blog has news about using MSN search with Firefox. And I missed this tidbit?- it's MSN Search with Greasemonkey enhancements for advanced options. Lastly, Microsoft will release Windows XP Service Pack 3 after Vista goes gold. This makes sense - not everyone will move to Vista right away, and this'll probably be a good way to get some of the features released with Vista into XP - like the final release of WinFx for example. Maybe even .NET Framework 2.0. That's long been an issue with Microsoft development - how do you guarantee that the framework is installed?

Have I mentioned that I love acquisition rumors? Well, the Web 2.0 conference is next week, and the rumor is that Newsgator will be announcing that they've swallowed up another company. And, Moreover is said to be on the verge of being acquired. These probably aren't related, but then again, who knows. Isn't Newsgator making a move into the enterprise market? Could Moreover be a fit?

Speaking of Newsgator, one of their competitors, Blogbot, has gone open source and is now free. It's an RSS/Atom reader for Outlook. Here's an idea. Someone should take the code for this, change it to synch with Newsgator Online, and enter it in the Newsgator API challenge.?

Lastly, let's talk about PubSub. They've been busy lately. First, they have a daily 1000 list.?Not everyone agrees that it's very good, and I tend to agree with the observations - I've been watching PubSub, and it's not very accurate about when it finds inbound links or registers new posts for my site.?But that's not all they're doing. They're going to measure blog's influence by category. And they're syndicating content from Forbes.

That's it for this week. I'm still looking for feedback about what you want out of RCW. I've made it easier for you - I've got more options for you. You can still email me any feedback at weekly at rosscode dot com - that'll still work. And I want to point out that all of my IM addresses are on my homepage, so you can interact that way too. But now, you can even leave me a voicemail message. That's right - just call (206)-424-4RCW (4729) and leave me a message.

Anyway, next week we'll talk about the Newsgator acquisition, and what that means for the aggregation market. The Web 2.0 conference is next week, so I'm sure we'll have more than just an acquisition to talk about it coming out of that. And let's not forget that AOL's VoIP solution is supposed to be coming on the 4th. Until then, thanks for reading (or listening) and in the great podcast tradition: Stay Subscribed!

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