Monday, October 03, 2011

Diggnation Calling it Quits

Today over at Revision 3, producer David Prager announced that Diggnation would end its run in December of this year.

Diggnation was one of the first, if not the first video podcast that helped launch Revision 3 as an online content network. Diggnation's neighbors at the time were podcasts like "CTRL ALT Chicken" and "The Broken", both of which disappeared from Rev 3's lineup some time ago. Diggnation covered some of the top stories that would appear on the website, Digg.com.

(Photo courtesy of Scott Beale/Laughing Squid)

While everyone at Revision 3 seems to be all rosey eyed and sentimental about the departure, I remain somewhat skeptical about the reasons given for the shutdown.

In a New York Times piece, hosts Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht say that the time has come, because they've both grown up and they want to move on to other things. While those may be good reasons, I think they've glossed over one major issue that HAD to have an effect on this show, namely that Digg's traffic went down the toilet after a very unpopular site redesign. The Digg staff tried their best to do damage control, then the CEO resigned (or was forced out, depending on who you talk to), and by then it was too late, the damage was done, and Digg could not recover.

Digg's content relied solely on its user base, the show in turn relied on Digg's content. Fewer users meant less content, less to talk about on the show. For the last few episodes I caught, this seemed fairly obvious. More filler, less killer.

We've not seen the last of Kevin or Alex, which is good, as they are definitely entertaining personalities (let's not forget they got started together on "The Screen Savers" before its own demise).

Alex continues to host the "Totally Rad Show" with Jeff Cannata and Dan Trachtenberg (a personal favorite). Kevin now hosts "Foundation", a podcast about entrepreneurs, something Rose has become known for.

Thanks for the shows guys, it was great while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon Reveals New Fire Tablet and Several New Kindles


It was well documented (see previous posts) that Amazon would be revealing their new color touch based tablet today, now officially called the Kindle Fire.

Rather than focusing on specifications, Amazon followed the practice of Apple in revealing features that will be available to Kindle Fire owners. Hey, it's worked for Apple so far so why the heck not, right?

Yeah, no.


One thing to notice is that the Fire's 7 inch screen is not HD since its resolution is 1024x600, but then again neither is the iPad's.

Regarding the processor, all Amazon is saying is that it's a "fast dual core". But they make a point of saying that the tablet is capable of multi-tasking, and running Adobe's Flash, something that still peeves iPad owners like yours truly.

The unit comes with 8GB of on board storage which isn't much. However, Amazon gives you free Amazon Cloud storage for all of your Amazon purchased apps, music, books, and other content. This means the necessity of having a ton of local storage is nearly done away with, UNLESS there's no wi-fi signal available. Major caveat there. There is a micro USB port, but whether this will just charge the unit or allow for external storage remains to be seen.

For anyone who's familiar with the fact that Amazon has a farm of servers that host web content, the next feature of the Fire is very interesting. When using its new "Silk" web browser, the task of browsing and loading web content is split between your device and Amazon's back end of servers to speed things along. THAT is impressive. It means Amazon's servers will do the heavy lifting when browsing the web.

Amazon touts the system requirements as "none, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer". This is of course made possible by the availability of Amazon's cloud, and hits Apple where it hurts; the train wreck that is iTunes which is required software for any of Apple's iPad or iPod line of products. (Are you hearing this Apple?!)

The new Kindle Fire is available for pre-order from Amazon with an announced release date of November 15th for $199.99 ($50 less than my best guess, I'll take that as a win).

Not to be ignored, Amazon also updated its line of Kindle eReaders with touch screens and smaller form factors. The Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are available for $99 and $149 with advertisements on the standby screen.

There is also a slimmer Kindle Wi-Fi sans touch screen and 3G connectivity (there's no other model in this line with 3G, it's simply not available) for $79 with standby screen advertisements.

Surprisingly, Amazon has not reduced the prices of the previous models of Kindle, so if you were hoping to get one super cheap, you'll have to keep hoping, or look for a used one. I'm sure there will be plenty of them available soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Amazon's Tablet Cometh Tomorrow

Well, the writing is on the wall. Apparently Amazon is looking to add another gadget to their lineup of already popular Kindle e-readers, and will make this announcement tomorrow.

Rumors have it that the new device will be called the Amazon Kindle Fire, which isn't a bad name keeping within the whole conflagration theme.

We'll have to wait to see just what the technical specifications are, but it's been reported around the web that the device is based off of the failed Blackberry Playbook (pictured left courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/etcusc/), albeit without a camera.

And speaking of cost, seems like Amazon will be trying to hit the $250 price point (my guess is $249.99 because that always looks nicer right?).

From what MG Siegler over at TechCrunch observed (lucky!), the tablet uses a forked version of Google's Android operating system prior to version 2.2. Apparently Amazon wanted their tablet to play in a walled garden like some other hardware vendors (*cough*Apple*cough*) because almost all traces of Android are hidden or have disappeared. This may not prevent the average joe from purchasing one, but anyone who has Android on a smartphone with Google Market and other apps available will probably shy away, and that's a LOT of people. To be fair Amazon has their own App Store which the device will use, so it's not as if users will be completely cut off. Actually, I've found the Amazon App Store to be quite robust.

It has a decent processor, which is good to know because there were rumors that Amazon had cut costs by using a slower one than the Playbook had, which would turn a lot of people off. But all is well, hopefully it can handle the media Amazon Prime offers without a hitch. Perhaps that's why Amazon forked Android in the first place?

While this is all very interesting, I'm not sure how successful this device can be in a market dominated by the iPad, though the Fire will cost far less than ANY iPad, which could give it a huge advantage, especially in today's economy. However, there are rumors that a new Barnes and Noble Nook is coming down the pipe which is near the same price point as the Fire. Oh variables, variables.

So for now we'll have wait to see if this Fire burns, or fizzles out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Days Are Here Again - 10 Free Junior Frosties for $1 at Wendy's!!!


The economy may be in the toilet right now but if you're a fan of the Wendy's Frosty there's a little sunshine headed your way.

With Halloween just around the corner, Wendy's has once again begun selling coupon books for 10 FREE (as in market) Junior Frosties.

All you have to do is 'donate' a dollar to Dave Thomas' adoption charity to get the book.

I suppose you could hand out the 10 coupons to trick or treaters (what they're intended for), or you could be a selfish jerk like me, turn off the front porch light, forget the kids, and keep them all for yourself.

That's 10 Free Junior Frosties for a buck!

Break out the Lactaid, it's going to be a long night!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

eBay sues Craigslist... no really


So I woke this morning to the usual headlines, Hillary did this, Obama did that in the PA primaries, blah blah blah. But, when I headed over to my favorite tech news sites (Slashdot, Techmeme, news.ycombinator.com, and TechCrunch) I stumbled across a most confounding of tales.

Online auction giant eBay is suing Craigslist. As if that didn't raise enough questions on its own, the reasons for eBay's suit only add confusion to the mix. Normally I can read most news stories and pretty much have the ins and outs of them down pat. This one, not so much.

First, at some point in the history of Craigslist (in 2004 to be precise), someone sold eBay their share of %28 in the company. Ok, so maybe some guy or gal was offered a lot of money by eBay to buy them out, fair enough. That's how a free market works. But %28? Why did eBay even bother? The company that was Craigslist was, and is a small group of people. Ebay must have known that they wouldn't be able to get a controlling amount of stock. To this day the company is still privately held.

Ok, fast forward to 2008 and eBay is saying that Craig Newmark (hence CRAIG'slist) and Jim Buckmaster intentionally acted to dilute eBay's economic interest in Craigslist by more than 10 percent. Now, I'm no slouch, but I also don't have a degree in economics or finance. Would someone mind translating that into something the general public can understand?

Why in the world would the behemoth that is eBay, the same company that had enough capital to buy (and now sell) Skype, want to sue a company that still operates out of Victorian houses in San Francisco? Is it the money? I doubt it. It would seem that eBay could only have one possible motive, and as Craigslist said on their blog today eBay sees them as a main competitor. As a person who has done business on eBay, I've gotten the feeling over the past year or so that the powers that be want to exercise more and more control (not to mention fees) over the way things are bought and sold. Craigslist on the other hand, is a free for all. Think of it as WalMart vs. the flea market.

I really don't see the logic behind any of eBay's actions regarding Craigslist. Guess we'll have to wait and see what happens next. While I'm at it, does anyone want to buy a corn chip that looks like Abraham Lincoln?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Future of Music Looks Bleak

Every so often I'll break out my guitar(s), write a song or two, and maybe even feel compelled to record something. At times I'm asked by others why it is that I don't pursue music as a career. Well aside from the obvious crap-shoot that music can be, it's a question I return to myself as I do enjoy music and musical creation more than most activities in this world. The simple answer to the question is that I don't pursue music because the music industry is a mess right now.


Now before anyone turns violent with images of curbing me ala American History X, let me say that I do NOT blame file-sharing for the current woes of the music industry. No, far from it. Music needs to change its business model, a topic I discussed in a previous post here. My master's thesis was based on the issue of file-sharing and I have yet to see any hard evidence through my own research of over 100 college students, studies published by Harvard School of Business, and many others, that file-sharing has led to the downfall of the music industry. This all leads up to an interesting video I found the other day when doing some research on a man easily considered a former vanguard of the recording industry.


John Kalodner is probably one of the creepiest (look at him!) and most famous A&R men of the twentieth century. For the un-initiated, A&R stands for Artists and Repertoire. It used to be that if you wanted to get a record deal, you wanted to get your tape in front of an A&R man. This is the guy that would go to the other execs and say hey, we need to sign these guys, they're going to be big!


Kalodner has worked with Aerosmith, Foreigner, AC/DC, and many other large rock/pop groups. Sometime around 2003 or so, the record companies decided that Kalodner was too much of an expense and not worth keeping, even though he had made some groups very, very large and in turn made the record companies very, very large sums of money. In the following interview taken during Januray of 2006 Kalodner, out of work and disillusioned, weighed in on the state of the industry.









While he says he would love to see a new delivery system, he still calls file-sharing stealing and likens it to someone going into Target and stealing everything. Additionally he says that everyone who does not admit to this is a liar.

Conversely, he readily admits that music was marked-up beyond reason by record company executives (or 'pigs' as he calls them) which should have not been the case, and that music can never “be for free”. What is so deliciously ironic is that Kalodner was ONE of the pigs himself! This is a man who was paid a lot of money to do what he did. I have to wonder if folks like Kalodner are only upset over the fact that their paychecks aren't as fat as they used to be.

Meanwhile artists such as Coldplay and Nine Inch Nails are doing exactly what Kalodner said was impossible. They are giving their music away and asking for donations etc. Where we go from here is a mystery. Where do you think the music industry will be in the future, what will it
look like? I look forward to your comments.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Excellent, Alternative Software (Oh Yeah, It's Free)

Not so long ago, in fact a week ago to be exact, I was a student. While there are downsides to the academic lifestyle there can be benefits as well. For one, software retailers tend to give you discounts that they deny to the general public. For instance, I purchased from two separate retailers, a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium edition for $70 U.S. That price included shipping. So, for what it would cost a regular consumer to buy just one copy of Vista Home Premium, I was able to buy two (one for the desktop, one for the laptop). If you're interested in where I found these deals, check out the Academic Superstore or CCV Software.

But let's say you're living off of Ramen noodle soup and microwave popcorn.  Well in that case you'll need some free (and LEGAL) software that's good enough to compete with its paid counterparts.


Software For Starving Students was created for this very purpose.



From their website:

"Software for Starving Students is a free collection of programs organized for students (but available to anyone). We've gathered a list of best-in-class programs onto one CD (one disc for OS X, one for Windows), including a fully-featured office suite, a cutting-edge web browser, multi-media packages, academic tools, utilities and more."


Each platform has a different set of programs but here's a list for the curious:

OS X

Windows



I can personally attest to the usefulness of many of the programs offered for both Windows and OS X platforms. Need to unzip or compress files? 7-Zip will fit the bill and then some. Want to record podcasts? Audacity to the rescue! Need to edit images without paying $600 to Adobe? Try the GIMP! Need to turn in that paper in Microsoft Word format but don't have the money for the Microsoft Office suite? Try OpenOffice and stick it to the man! It really is a great software package to have in a pinch, and the best thing is that it comes as an ISO file so you can burn it to 1, that's right I said ONE cd. Tell your family, tell your friends, tell the money hungry software developers to take a leap! Check out Software for Starving Students!