Thursday, September 28, 2006

eBay My World - A place to blog about your stuff (for sale.)

eBay has pumped up their About Me pages and is about to launch eBay My World with customizable layouts, blogs, additional bio space, and the ability to publish reviews and guides to your My World page.

The page layout tool limits options and thereby keeps the My World page looking clean and lean. Score one for readability.

eBay My World

The page looks so good and the idea is so simple you have to wonder why they didn't come out with it sooner.

Sure there are lots of places to blog. There are lots of places to blog for free. There are even lots of places to post pictures and related info about your auctions. But since (in the US anyway) eBay is the largest community of auction buyers and sellers, it makes sense for them to have a way for buyers and sellers to communicate with one another in a community setting. It might even help detect cheaters on eBay. For reasons not entirely clear, most internet crooks have really bad grammar -- now you can check their eBay My World blogs for typos and other signs that they may have spent their youth pondering larcenous thoughts rather than listening attentively to their English teacher.

eBay My World blogs support comments and RSS feeds. This will make it easy to add the blog of your favorite eBay eBay power to the RSS Reader of your choice. Since the Google portal has recently allowed me to add a second page of RSS feeds, even I've got a place to keep the posts for later perusal.


qv: myworld.ebay.com

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Who needs dot mobi? Dot Nobody.

For the past few weeks, my domain registrars have been hoping I'd jump into the dot mobi domain landrush.

Tomorrow morning, September 26th at 6:00 AM, PDT, we will stop taking .mobi pre-registration requests in preparation for the .mobi landrush. You have until that time to submit all of your requests.
they close the email with the following call to action:
REMEMBER!? Today is your last chance to pre-register .mobi domain name requests. New domain extensions don't come around very often. Don't wait. If you have an idea for a great domain name, request it today!
It has to be that .mobi will die with a whimper. Why would anyone want to attempt to drive mobile phone users (folks without a QWERTY keypad) to a four letter domain name extension? Suring the web on a cell phone is already a frustrating experience, but to imagine that to get an even better, but still bad mobile rendition of a website I would have to type in a special domain name rather than have the system autodetect my very small screen? That's sheer folly.

I am sure there will be a few clever mobi domain names that we may all end up going to eventually, but I have to believe that all in all, there won't be many people building two versions of their websites and giving the more diminutive of the two the horrible extension -- dot mobi.


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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Increasing Website Revenue with Google Sitemap

Marshall Breeding's article at Library Technology describes how he methodically took the existing asset of the Vanderbilt collection of TV News Video Archives and exposed them to the web while still retaining control of his assets. He wanted to allow web searchers the ability to know what was in his archives without actually giving away the information. The goal seems noble enough -- this group has been retaining TV news video archives for research purposes since 1968. Rental (and copying) revenue funds the operations of the archive.

He describes why and how he made the changes and exposed just the select information. He also describes how he measured his results and how long it took to see results. It's all useful information for someone building their business on the web.

qv: Library Technology Guides: How we funneled searchers from Google to our collections by catering to Web crawlers

Monday, September 25, 2006

Video: WYFF - Buyer Beware - Pretexting

WYFFI did another Buyer Beware segment with Tim Waller last week. We talked about Pretexting. I had just done a diatribe on this issue at the GSATC meeting earlier in the day. If someone thinks this is legal, then we have to, as fellow citizens figure out how to disabuse them of that notion, even if it means writing a law. Pretexting is consumer fraud. People pretend to be you in order to get access to your private data. It is shameful that credit card companies, law enforcement agencies, and even employers are invading people's privacy just because they don't think there is a a law specifically making it illegal.


Watch: Your Phone Records May Not Be As Safe As You Think

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Should the stock market close for the summer?

Jim Cramer was on Imus last month and at the time said that he didn't think it would be any problem at all if the stock market closed for the summer. Don't believe him? Watch the timer on the audio clip as it plays. Imus has Cramer on for an 11 minute segment. After just 2 minutes Imus changes the subject. With no fanfare, they are done talking about stocks, companies, and the market. They instead begin talking about developments in the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Woof!

Trudge through, however, as Cramer comes around to talking about his unintentional deconstruction of his life. Imus pushes him from minute 4 to the end. It makes for some fascinating radio.

Listen: Cramer on Imus


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Podcast: Your Questions - TV on PC

Every month we take calls from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia on calls about technology. This show aired on the September 14, 2006.

  • We are sad. Lonelygirl15 is an actress, not a troubled youth with a sweet crush on her camera toting friend, Daniel.
off to the first call...
  • Greg's TV died. He wants to watch television channels on his laptop PC. After I proposed that he spend more time watching shirtless dweebs on YouTube, Eric suggested he download in2tv tv shows. Greg really wants to watch broadcast shows, however, so we get a TV tuner card. There are lots of choices. We think that what he really needed was to get a card with a coax input so that he could watch cable television signals.
  • Ken asked about retaining access to his old Outlook Express emails. It's easy! Find the directory containing all of those .eml files and copy
  • Greg has Windows XP Media Center Edition. He wants to put his videos on DVDs to watch on his home television. We wandered off in a discussion of compressing video into the DIVX format which is supported by newer DVD players. We suggested also that he use Nero if he needs to convert video for a standalone video player.
  • Eric started with his own news about lonelygirl15. We've been had! Eric wants to get rid of all advertising in his life (especially on PC.) Our Eric has recommended Spybot, Phil recommends Windows Defender. Want to browse invisibly? Check out the Firefox extensions to help. Don't forget to hit Shift-Ctrl-Delete in Firefox to clear some of your history.
  • E.G. wants to put video on his website. For audio, I suggested he use Audacity, but to transfer video he is going to need a video capture device like the Dazzle.
  • Eric (another) bought a new desktop with Ad Aware installed. He is looking for free spyware detection and removal tools. Windows Defender is a good choice for Windows users. We also recommend he take a look at Spybot Search and Destroy. He asked "What is a Trojan?" I guess the answer must have been off the air. We warned him about the perils of programs that attack his computer.
Thanks for listening. We'll be back next month!

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Friday, September 15, 2006

One Apple fan's iTunes movie tragedy

First hand accounts of buying movies through Apple's iTunes store are now popping up all over the web. None are sadder than the tale of poor Cormac O'Reilly over at The Register. It seems that he has already spent over 12 hours downloading a $10 movie. The download has crashed once and Apple's website says he still has another two hours to go.

The really sad part of this story? He's downloading Flight Plan with Jodie Foster.

Having seen that video myself, I think any sort of crash would have been better than having to watch the preposterous end of that film.

Apple fan runs iTunes movie marathon | The Register

Calling All Segway Owners - You've been recalled.

According to Segway, Inc:
A condition has been identified in which the Segway PT can unexpectedly reverse the direction of the wheels which can cause a rider to fall. This can occur when the PTís Speed Limiter tilts back the machine to slow it down and the rider goes off and then back onto the PT within a short period of time.

According to reports on the web, 23,500 Segway Personal Transporters are affected by the recall.

I don't know anyone who owns one of these devices, and was surprised to find that there are not one, but two dealers within five miles of my home.

qv: Segway: voluntary recall

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Would you accept exploding music from a Spiral Frog?

Spiral Frog will be offering free music in exchange for one of your most valuable assets. You give them some of your time and attention by watching their advertising and they will let you download music to your computer for free.

No doubt, there will be some people who would be willing to watch an advert and then download a song. If the press is to be believed, those same people are going to be disappointed on two counts.

The first indignity is that the songs will play only on your PC. The digital rights management (read copy protection) scheme built into the songs will keep them from playing on portable music players. Secondly, the only way to keep the songs into the future will be to go back to the website and watch more ads. If you don't take your ads on a regular basis, the songs will self-destruct.

qv: Spiral Frog

Behind the radio...

Before our live radio segment today we recorded three segments for future broadcast. If I find out the schedule of those segments in advance, I'll let you know here.

One of the segments was about online storage and backup services. We talked about Box.net, X-Drive, and Servosity. Eric and I actually use mydatabus to transfer the big audio files that eventually become my podcasts.

Our radio schedule is going to change a bit for the next few months. We have to move because of some scheduling conflicts, but we are also preparing for something a bit bigger. You may have noticed today that the segment was actually extended by a few minutes. We went on the air at 12:27 rather than 12:32. We got the extra time because the show is no longer cutting away to NPR for the news break at the bottom of the hour. I think we used the time to take an extra call. I'll get to analyze it a bit better once Eric sends the audio file. You can check it out for yourself in the next podcast of the show.

I'll post the updated dates and times for October and November once I am a bit more sure of them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Listening to the Twin Towers - The Sonic Memorial Project

NPR's Lost and Found Sound project has created an audio archive and soundscape surrounding this history and fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The archive lets you ramble through stories of love, daring, and music. There are numerous first and second-hand accounts of the neighborhood before the World Trade Center, it's construction, and the lives that passed through it's space. Be sure to listen to the one-hour special and explore the many sound clips of the Sonic Browser.

qv: The Sonic Memorial Project

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Second Life Hacked -- Linden Labs Responds

Linden Labs has sent out a note saying that the Second Life Database Server has been hacked using a "zero-day" exploit. I am not sure exactly what that means, but I think overall that their disclosure of the problem and notification of their users is nearly a perfect example of responsible corporate communication.

In posts to their blog as well as emails to their users, they describe the problem, how they discovered it, the actions they have taken to mitigate the effect, and the actions that they either require or recommend of their users in order to protect themselves from potentially compromised data.


qv: Official Linden Blog


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Monday, September 04, 2006

Podcast: Music Online - What can I get for Free?

Forget Free Love! I want Free Music! I talk to Eric Rodgers once again about some of the ways you can still get great music for free using the web.

  • We begin by ruminating about the early days of Napster, the free (and illegal) music download service that was closed, then relaunched. It's the one that was shut down that we liked so much.

  • iTunes sells music by the song.

  • Rhapsody is the music service from Real that allows you to fill up your portable music player for a monthly fee.

  • Yahoo Music Unlimited gives you unlimited access to over 1 million songs in their library for $12 a month but doesn't work with ipods. It's a bit cheaper if you prepay the year or if you don't include your portable music device in the plan. In that case, you listen to songs on your PC only.

  • Eric talks about BitTorrent as a technology for sharing music, video, and other files. He recommends the uTorrent client in particular. A java-based BitTorrent clioent, Azureus
    is available at source forge which hopefully means it is also spyware free. We'd be loathe to download clients from websites we didn't trust. BitTorrent clients have been previously bundled with nasty spyware.

  • Some bands are "trade friendly" meaning they allow you to make recordings of of their live performances and then trade them with your friends. The website etree.org lets you find recordings of these bands and begin recording them via a BitTorrent client.

  • Pirate Bay allows you to search BitTorrents for music. This is possibly the largest selection of music and video you can search on the web. Since this website is probably operating on the wrong side of the law, it may or may not be available at any moment. The Swedish website has found safe harbor in a country with some pretty weak copyright laws.

  • A great selection of live music is also available on the Internet Archive. It looks like Eric and I were talking about the same collection of music. ETree is the live music archive at Internet Archive. Archive.org also has a great selection of open source music for download.

BONUS:
  • The original recording of this podcast took you all the way to the edge of the law with a mention of the website that would clearly be illegal if it were based in the United States, but skirts US copyright law by locating themselves in Russia. They offer a lot of music for download at very low prices. The website is called AllofMP3. It has created quite a stir.

We'll be back live on the radio on September 14.

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