Categories
Office

Push Button Social Networking

HTC announced two phones with dedicated buttons for Facebook. The touchscreen Salsa and ChaCha (pictured below).

Running Android Gingerbread 2.3.3, HTC modified the Sense UI to integrate the Facebook into the experience. According to the HTC press release,

The Facebook button on HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa is context-aware, gently pulsing with light whenever there is an opportunity to share content or updates through Facebook. With a single press of the button, you can update your status, upload a photo, share a Website, post what song you are listening to, ‘check in’ to a location and more. For example, you can take a photograph of friends on your phone and upload it instantly to Facebook by simply pressing the button. Or let your friends know what song you’re listening to by pressing the button while listening to music on the phone. The track is automatically identified and shared on Facebook.

Dedicated hardware keys are nothing new (see Yahoo button on Japanese feature phone below) but HTC has taken advantage of the phone sensors and software to give this button multiple uses, as long as your preferred social network is Facebook.

Shipping in Q2 2011 across Europe and Asia and launching exclusively with AT&T “later this year.”

Categories
Office

Dual SIM is Better Than One

Nokia Researcher Younghee Jung has an fascinating two-part post about how people are hacking their phones to support multiple phone numbers.

We found a service offered by a local mobile phone dealer (Mobile Phone People, one of the Nokia authorized dealers) in Ghana. It costs 15 euros to have the two SIM cards combined into one. There is an even more advanced operation, which requires a special SIM card imported from Finland. This card can host up to 16 SIM cards into one, but costs 40 euroes. Either of these operations costs considerably high for the market, as it is more than purchasing a mobile phone. Therefore the clientele is mostly business people who do need to have two or more numbers but do not want to go through the inconvenience of switching SIM cards or carrying multiple phones.

I did a little research and it turns out the 16 in 1 SIM cards are no longer available but you can still pick up a 6 in 1 backup kit for $50 and clone your existing SIMs onto a single chip. Features include:

  • Fast number switching, normally takes less than 30 seconds (phone dependence)
  • Dual speed (9600/19200bps) USB SIM reader/writer, allow scanning old SIM card which can’t be scanned with high speed.
  • Allow to edit SIM card name for easy identification of which SIM is being used
  • Allow to show either SIM name, operator name or SIM + operator name on the phone. (phone dependence)
  • Super large phone book capacity with 250 contacts and 50 SMS
  • Supports English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese user interface
  • Manage SMS and contacts in PC with “SIM Editor”

*It should go without saying, that cloning your SIM most likely violates your agreement with your mobile provider.

David Segal on Search

David Segal, the same New York Times journalist who filed the fascinating 5,500+ word piece in November about decormyeyes.com is back again. The Dirty Little Secrets of Search with a great piece looking into an unwitting, client (and now victim) of black hat SEO, JC Penney. His piece goes into quite a bit of detail (for a mainstream newspaper anyway) on the underground mechanics of the link sharing economy but what I like best is the following description.

When you read the enormous list of sites with Penney links, the landscape of the Internet acquires a whole new topography. It starts to seem like a city with a few familiar, well-kept buildings, surrounded by millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls.

Exploiting those hovels for links is a Google no-no. The company’s guidelines warn against using tricks to improve search engine rankings, including what it refers to as “link schemes.” The penalty for getting caught is a pair of virtual concrete shoes: the company sinks in Google’s results.

Sounds like a rough neighborhood.

Categories
Current Events

Singularity and Sentience

I tuned into the launch of Echo’s social media mixer, the StreamServer, which they describe as a platform for the activity streams-based economy. As the saying goes, in a world where the amount of information is ever-expanding and time remains constant, attention is what is of value. As your phone and computer beeps and buzzes with the latest urgent notification, the ability to monitor, much less take action on a signal becomes impossible. All information is approaching real-time in the constant battle to be first.

The volume of this “me first” wave of data increases causing the half-life of information to get shorter. Steve Rubel quoted a study that found that 92% of retweets happen in the first hour. If you can’t get your point across so that it resonates with someone else within that first hour, that thought is gone for good. Scrolled away, below the fold, decayed away.

So we wire things up to make things faster and we put systems in place to help us make sense of all this information flowing around so we can pick up a signal that we can use in a meaningful way. Something that will hopefully make our life better than it was before we had to deal with all this information that gets pushed at us.

Then we build filters. And what are filters but a search query that swims mid-stream. Not a respective search like what you would type into Google to search an archive but a prospective search, one that looks forward in time. And each of these queries we type are nuggets of intelligence. We fine-tune them to get exactly what we want and filter out what we don’t.

Follow all my LinkedIn contacts (that have twitter accounts) that are in the Mobile Phone industry and have over 500 followers that are saying anything with a hashtag of #MWC and has more than 5 retweets.

In plain English (kinda), that is what we want our filter to do and a smart system will look at how we respond to the results of that filter and try and automatically make it better. More like this, less like that, etc.

So we teach the machine how to think. We tell it how we connect the dots and draw conclusions.

So I dig around the aboutecho.com wiki and scroll down to the Philosophies section (I dunno, sounds intriguing) and click through to read this post on http://synapticweb.org/.

Social profiles are becoming real-time streams. If the old profile was a neuron, the stream is a neural pathway or pattern. It is the connective tissue between applications and people that feeds information from one node to another. Profiles come and go, people express themselves using countless tools and technologies – the stream, however, is the consistent and persistent channel that matters. It is the new presentation metaphor that increases the level of information we can consume while reducing our sense of overload. Just like synapses, they fire, and like synapses, it is the collective patterns of multiple firings – multiple signals or re-tweets – that creates a pattern. Patterns create meaning. Tune in, tune out, it doesn’t matter. The information will find you if it matters. Implicit information derived from content and gestures is one of the great opportunities of the Synaptic Web. To observe a set of gestures and connect them together creates a dynamic profile of interests, intentions and friends that can be used for discovery and filtering.

This is heady stuff. Yeah, I read Kevin Kelly’s book too but we’re going to have to evolve quite a bit beyond brute force keyword filters. How do you encode a vibe, a hunch?

Don’t get me wrong, Echo StreamServer looks like an interesting idea and I’m sure we’ll hear something along these lines from Facebook soon too. Big minds are at work on this. But let us not fool ourselves into thinking that a bit of hacking is going to solve our information overload problems. We’re just taking the tools out of the toolbox and learning what we have.

Categories
Current Events

Helsinki “Snow-How”

7-minute video on CNN about how Helsinki handles it’s annual snow removal operations. The last time Helsinki’s Vantaa airport closed because of snow was in 2003 and that was for just 30 minutes.

Bohemian Rhapsody on Ukulele

TED has a video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on his Ukulele. As Jake says, “If everyone played the Ukulele, this world would be a much happier place.”

Europe at Night

This amazing composite image hosted by NASA and other cool images are hosted over at Thought Bubbles, a running archive of occasional wallpaper images and quotes I’ve been curating since 2005.

Categories
Current Events

Throwing Stones

Banksy’s "Barely Legal" show in Los Angeles

The images coming out of Cairo are very disturbing. Nothing good can come out of a situation where the two sides resort to the throwing of blunt objects at each other. My hope is for calmer minds to prevail tomorrow. Google (and Issac Asimov) tell us, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

Ignore the “american as cherry pie” stuff – that’s just the incompetent Americans that are saying that.

Categories
Current Events

What Not to Say. . .

. . . when you are trying to instill global confidence in your leadership abilities.

In response to questions from the international press about S&P issuing it’s first downgrade on Japanese credit worthiness in nine years,

Prime Minister Naoto Kan had little reassurance to offer. “I just heard that news,” a flustered-looking Mr. Kan told reporters. “I am a little ignorant on those kind of matters,” he said. “Let me look into it more.”

Uh-oh.

Categories
Office

Peaks and Valleys

There’s a great post over on TechCrunch about what it’s like to be a startup entrepreneur by Mark Suster with the usual, quick checklist of necessary qualities and caveats of what is in store for anyone that’s thinking of going down such a path. Checklists are good but nothing gives you a sense of what it’s like more than this breathless passage included below. Try and read the entire bit in one breath and then, maybe, you can appreciate what these guys go through day in and day out.

 

Snap.  Great story on TechCrunch!  Inbound calls from partners, people who want to join,“atta boys” from friends.  You knew it all along.  Your vision was right.  VCs are calling wanting meetings.  La vita e bella.  Uh, oh.  Fawk.  Facebook DID NOT just announce that!  Scoble is saying your best days are behind you?  No, I think we can still be huge.  We’re just going to have to change our focus a bit.  Weekends.  Evenings.  Regroup.  Team losing a bit of confidence in you.  VCs pushing out your meetings a few weeks.  WTF?  Just a month ago they were all emailing you!

Well, you still have 6 months runway.  What if we pivot slightly?  Not a total change – just a different way of making money.  What if we dropped the code that would compete with Facebook and instead go after this other area?  Relaunch.  Oh, man.  Our user numbers are up.  Awesome!  Loving this new direction.  It’s all good.

But … only 2 month’s cash left.  Let’s just not pay ourselves for a couple of months.  The junior devs need it.  They’re month-to-month.  I think we can be like the Maccabes and stretch this cash.  Do we tell our team? Can they handle knowing we only have 3, maybe 4 months cash? Or if we say that will they all be putting out the word to their friends to look for their next gig?

Great new product release. Another good article.  VC meetings going well.  Holy sh*t!!! We just landed the biz dev partner we’ve been working on for 9 months.  They love us!  Awesome!  $2 million in VC.  Life couldn’t be better.  All your buddies want to join.  No.  Google DID NOT just acquire our main biz dev partner.  What?  Google doesn’t know if they’re going to honor our contract?  We now have to re-convince everybody? But we had a term sheet !!!

You can’t believe it.  Eight beers that night.  Maybe even tequila.  And the next morning – water off a duck’s back.  We’ll find a way.  Startups weren’t mean to be easy.  Back to work.

– from Should You Really Be A Startup Entrepreneur?

How about you? Are you ready for the ride?