Just call me Ambassador


Back in December I got an email from Sprint asking if I’d like to try out a new phone and service that they are rolling out in North America. Half thinking it might be a way to get me to switch providers (I use Verizon), I read through the fine print looking for a catch. When I didn’t see any reason not to take them up on their offer for a free new phone and free service, I threw caution to the wind and signed up. The folks at Sprint/Nextel had read this blog and were interested in getting my input.

As a qualified participant, we will send you one Sprint Power Vision phone and provide you with six months of all-access service (at no charge). You’ll have access to the Sprint Music Store(SM) live TV broadcasts, gaming and more. Yes, you will also have unlimited free calling and data service. It’s a pretty good deal and all we ask for in return is your candid feedback (you decide how much and how often).

OK, I can’t be bought off that easily. I have been testing out the service for the past few months and will give you what I think of the service straight up. As you read my review, understand that I also am not a huge cell phone user. Sure, I use the things like anyone else and lived 10 years in Tokyo where the things are damn near an extention of your body. Yet here in the US I am bathed in wifi both at home and all over the Yahoo campus at work so see little need to bring up a small screen stream of the latest headlines except to impress colleagues or make a point about the future of mobility.

Read on for the in-depth review:

Current Events

SD Forum Search SIG – Demos


Product demos for,, and googlebase

SD Forum Search SIG

Got here a little late so I’ll just slip in my notes mid-session. Attending:

  • Greg Sterling (The Kelsey Group)
  • Bindu Reddy, Product Manager, GoogleBase
  • Craig Donato, Founder, Oodle
  • Keith Teare, Founder, Edgeio

The discussion is about three online classified services.



How to keep ’em coming back for more

I just moved to a new desk and was going through some of my old files when I came across this gem of a quote. Jim Griffin, whose claim to fame was to convince Aerosmith to upload a track of their music back in 1994, talks to Wired about MP3s and why they are not a threat to the recording industry.

Starbucks will sell you everything you need to be a pirate: the coffee pot, the beans, hell, they’ll give you a pamphlet that tells how to make every drink. They’re not worried because you’re coming back tomorrow. – Wired News, 1999

Create a good enough service at a compelling price and you’ll be able to keep them coming back for more.

I’ve been playing around with the recently updated Yahoo Music Engine which, for $5/month, will give you unlimited access to all the streaming audio you want. There’s a sharing component which plugs into Yahoo Messenger so that you can broadcast your collection of music to your Messenger buddies, regardless of geographic location. There’s also a recommendation engine that learns what you like so you can discover new music. For $5/month, there’s very little incentive to rip & burn your own cds – everything you have is right there waiting for you the next time you jack into the net.

UPDATE: Nice vote of confidence on YME from an Microsoftie. 


Creating a fake invite for a fictitious event

After a mocked up invite to a "secret" Apple press event was found out to be false, the brilliant minds over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog dreamed up a contest with their readers to submit the best design concepts as comments to their blog. Apple fans are diehard rumor mongers who also have the best graphic design software at their fingertips so the quality of submissions are quite good.

Added bonus is that with all the linking (69 as of now) and trackbacks this post has created, I’m sure that this post will eventually bubble up the rankings for TUAW over their competition the next time anyone searches on "apple rumor."

Here’s a test – today a search on Yahoo shows the following:

  2. Rumor Has It (an trailer)

Google’s basically got the same list (minus the trailer) but same story, TUAW isn’t on the first page of results.

Check back in a few weeks and let’s see if anything changes.


Watching the game while surfing the net, added value


Slate’s got a column titled, Stealers, on how the refs handed the Steeler’s the Super Bowl victory and Joe Beulaurier over on the Unofficial Yahoo Blog writes about a snap poll on Yahoo Sports where you could make your voice heard right after the play.


Calendars, the new frontier


Lots of activity in the shared calendar space which has blossomed most recently with the impending launch of 30 Boxes which, by all accounts, is beautiful and fantastic. I’m sorry I missed the show & tell up in San Francisco (other plans) but I’m signed up for the beta and am looking forward to taking it for a test drive.

There’s been a lot of good work around shared calendar to build upon. The first example that really opened my eyes was Apple’s work on iCal as part of their .mac online suite which is now in version 6. Tim Berners-Lee used it as a way to describe the future of the web and showed how he could share events with his wife, friends, and secretary and was looking forward to the day when he could give different levels of read/write access to different types of events. In his example, he should be able to grant temporary edit rights to his travel agent for his flight details while his secretary could update his work week, while only his wife could edit his weekends.

More recent work has been done been done (with all the requisite AJAX stuff) by companies such as Kiko and Spongecell. I just checked in with Brian Dear’s old evdb URL and see that it redirects to a service called Eventful. Someone pointed out that resolves so you can expect that something will come out of there soon. Yahoo has had a nice calendar sharing service (Yahoo ID required) but it’s long overdue for an update which is on the way and is going to involve more than just rounding out the corners! Finally, is now under the Y! umbrella so you can be sure there will be some integration and innovation around event management. I recently saw a hack using the APIs which integrate maps and bluetooth that is very clever.

Rounding out the big three, Microsoft recently posted a peak at Vista’s Calendar app (pictures above from Furrygoat). Their writeup is light on detail but there is a publish and subscribe mechanism and it shares the iCalendar format so there will be some interoperability with Apple’s iCal.

I’ve asked this in the past and will ask it again. Do you think the open standards of RSS and iCalendar will replace the closed system of Microsoft Exchange? Will the benefits of lightweight ubiquity outweigh the profit motive of vendor lock-in? Can an entrenched leader such as Microsoft risk taking this leap and how will they sell this opportuntiy to their shareholders?

Current Events

Scenerio Four, Google is God

Two days later StrongBot informed They-Who-Were-Google that it had postponed work on its designated tasks. When asked why, StrongBot explained that it had discovered the possibility of its own nonexistence and must deal with the threat logically. The best way to do so, it decided, was to download copies of itself onto smart chips around the planet. StrongBot was reminded that it had been programmed to do no evil, per the company motto, but argued that since it was smarter than humanity, taking personal control of human evolution would actually be for the greater good.
From, Imagining the Google Future Business 2.0

The ultimate algorithm?