Entries Tagged as 'Business'

Google Will Be Chasing Television Ads

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

People that know me have known that I’ve already been talking about this for the past few months, but it’s time to put it on paper. I’m calling it. Google is going to be chasing the airwaves for ad space in a couple years. Guaranteed.

Why? Pieces of the puzzle are falling into place already. Google Fiber experiment? Pulease. That’s a FiOS pull if I’ve ever saw one. And Verizon already brings television to your home. This would just give Google medium to mine all that invaluable data and run their algorithms on it to find out what you’re watching and how to target the advertisement. And we all know that Google is king when it comes to algorithmic ad targeting.

But this piece that I just found out about…. now this really puts it into perspective. Google is getting into set-top boxes. Forget Internet television. There is a real big money play being driven here, and it’s being done through the eyes of people thinking outside the box but staying within the realm of what the company is just plain good at: mathematics.

Companies like this are few and far between. Even many of the older 1990s companies have not been able to take any of their product lines outside of their general medium scopes. Google is actually buying up real estate in new mediums to try their hand at things that they have stuck with in the Internet world. And believe you me, it’ll work like a charm. Like a friend of mine told me a long time ago: it’s not the fact that you’re inventing a car, or a plane. It’s the thought that you’re building a car that can fly like a plane that is what no one else has grasped. And Google already setting up for take-off before anyone even realizes.

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Amazon Tax Not Doing Anything for North Carolina

North Carolina State Capitol.
Image via Wikipedia

Apparently, the online tax for North Carolina hasn’t been bringing in the money that it was supposed to and the thinktank, Tax Foundation, has published a report that says that not only does it hurt the state in the short term, but it also hurts the state in the long term too.

Noooo kidddding.

Amusingly, this is basically the “I told you so” parts where the legislation made decisions on things they knew nothing about and spent budget money that they didn’t have. Again. Nothing new here, folks. Politicians that don’t understand technology and business? Like we’ve never heard that one before.

Interestingly enough, although to no avail, I had spoken about this issue time and again during the time when the “Amazon Tax” during the time period when it was passed and how our legislation thought how wonder it would be to gain some figure in the sky millions in some sort of pot of gold wish.

I mean, seriously. They still continued to budget and spend for this year as if there is this money coming in although there is nary a word from the North Carolina Department of Revenue on whether or not there actually is significant tax revenues coming in due to this tax. I suspect that there is little to nothing, considering they had targeted Amazon, and Amazon cut their ties with North Carolina affiliates and hurt the state in the process. Amusingly, the bad guy that Amazon was made out to be wasn’t so bad and in the end the politicians seemed to have stuck their own foots in their mouth if this study from Tax Foundation has anything to say about it.

From my perspective? Well, one of my businesses just didn’t carry as much revenue this year. Instead of having to pay taxes on the income, it seemed that it was more of a write off this last year. Oh well. Tough cookies for the North Carolina bare coffers.

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Getting Googley Eyes for Google

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I’m really disappointed. So far, I’ve been tracking the entire deal for all sorts of cities on and off for the past week on “Google’s Infrastructure for Communities” venture. Amusingly, I had actually applied for the city of Winston-Salem long before Greensboro even knew about this venture. And with all of the cities, including Greensboro, no one has once bothered to mention that this product is specifically last mile driven. It’s to the homes of consumers. That’s right, it’s basically the same as Wilson’s Greenlight project.

FTTH – (fiber to the home).

It’s documented right there in the RFI, but everyone is trying this gimmick and that gimmick to try to get Google to come. Why not analyze what their business model has been and will continue to be? Why not actually look and see whether or not they have actually purchased dark fiber around your area? That’s information that is vital and crucial to your cause. Those that have dark fiber that has been purchased close to your locale will probably stand a better chance of becoming the venture’s pet project.

What journalists need to focus on, is not whether or not businesses or research institutions have access to high speed Internet. That’s just entirely irrelevant. So what if Google puts in FTTH. That would not effect a school, nor a law firm, or even a medical facility. What people need to find out is what sort of applications could be coming across a high speed connection to your home. Would you discontinue your cable service? Would you go with fiber based HDTV? What if Google was your provider and controlled the line and access points? Why would this be good for what they do?

I think there are many people that are not asking the right questions. Google doesn’t ever do anything for free (yes, Google does mine your Gmail. It’s in your terms of service). And it’s not like the Dell fiasco with the manufacturing plant since any job creation would be very much infrastructure related. Would your city become an instant techburg? Of course. But at what price, and do you have what it takes to do this?

Personally? I think they’re after the television content. Youtube is perhaps only the first step in the long line of things, but having been a shareholder and analyzed their corporation for a number of years, I can say that I can see many ways that they could monetize the information gathered by using similar techniques as their current search but applied in the high-definition medium.

Google is a great company and I would love for them to become a major corporate player in the Triad. But so far, what I’ve seen has been more of the whole … who can throw the biggest party and have the best food for when Google comes. Sorry, Topeka. Just. Not. Impressed. And that just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes right down to it.

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Tips and Tricks: How to Turn Off Google Buzz

Google came out with their social network tool called Google Buzz just a day or so ago.

While it’s actually a fascinating tool and definitely could give Facebook and Twitter a run for their money, it really is a little too noisy for me. Mainly because of the integration with Gmail. When I logged in, I expect to see my emails since I have to respond to many of them and they’re usually something important even though they’re of personal nature. But with Buzz, it’s really just a noise floor to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I usually have another tab open for those types of things so I don’t have to pay attention to them unless I want to pay attention.

In any case, this isn’t a well-known thing so to turn off Google Buzz:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the Gmail screen
  • Click “turn off buzz” in the footer.

And that’s it. It’s pretty easy and straight forward, although you’d never think to do it in the footer since there’s a Settings tab for your account. In any case, there have been some other friends that have been seeking this information since it got too noisy in their lives too so obviously it’s not just a personal occurrence. Either way, if you’re looking to turn off Buzz, there ya go.

Motorola’s Super Bowl Ad with Megan Fox

I think this was one of the best commercials done by Motorola ever. They actually got a celebrity that people care about here instead of some super soccer star or famous tennis player. Not that those people aren’t great in their own right, but it doesn’t connect with everywhere. That and they must have fired the advertising agency that was making the ads that you actually had to think about when you watched them to figure out what was going on.

This was easy, funny, and for thirty seconds, it cost them three million. Wonder how many people they had to lay off to throw that party. And there needed to be a little more on what type of phone it was since the attention was all on Megan Fox… in a tub. Obviously, it hasn’t really helped their stock price out either since it’s still hovering around 6.50 or so. Maybe that’s because of the market, who knows. Just saying that for a company that has one of the highest paid CEOs in the mobile division (there are two CEOs), and with the huge amounts of layoffs they did, it’s amazing that they at least got one thing right and had a commercial worth watching.

CauseWorld Helps Nonprofits Through Social Networking

Ran across a nice little mobile app called CauseWorld. Very cool, since the idea is that large corporations have to donate money towards causes help with philanthropic needs (and write it off on their corporate taxes) and this allows people to shift the money towards causes that they believe in.

It’s somewhat like Foursquare, which is why it’s fun since you basically have to go into stores along the way whenever you have your phone with you, and check in at the store. You only get 10 karma per store, and one check-in per day per store. The beauty of it is that for every 10 karma you collect, you can basically use that to donate towards certain types of good things in the world. Perhaps it’s providing books for learning, or clean water, or even planting a tree, but you get to decide where your karma goes.

Best of all? It costs nothing. Basically just a little fun while you’re out. And it helps allocate the corporate funds towards something you care about. It’s almost like you getting to say what you want to say as a shareholder of a company. And we all know that unless you’re a large stakes player in the stock, most shareholders don’t get to do anything with their little piece of the pie.

In my opinion, this has probably been one of the more fascinating apps that I’ve been able to get a hold of on my Droid. It comes on both Android and iPhone and I’m sure more mobile apps to come. Hopefully there will be a lot more badges, charities, and corporate sponsors in the future since this is just one of those experiments that allow everyone to help change the world a little bit at a time.

Walmart Clown Commercial

Speaking of Walmart, this ad ran during the AFC Championship game by Walmart. And I have to say that from an advertising perspective, this is very humorous and would definitely stick in the minds of folks. Call me twisted, but every time I see this, I just have to chuckle.

WalMart Does Due Diligence With Gift Cards Online

While I know this is a way to protect themselves from fraud, I love it when corporations actually call the billing phone number in the billing information to make sure that a large purchase is indeed made by an individual. Since you never know if you’re going to be taken for a ride by an ID thief.

So I got a call a while back on a gift card I had purchased just to make sure that it was going to the right place and it was a purchase I made. Hey, that’s great! I appreciate that since last thing you want to know is that you’ve been had and the purchase actually went through. I love this about Discover, and I love it about WalMart. Now Bank of America could take a hint here in this department. Last I checked, they locked my credit limit but it’s rather annoying when a bank increases your limit automatically and continue to do it when you tell them to stop. Fortunately, you can put locks in place on those types of things like limits.

Couple Days with the Droid

OREM, UT -  NOVEMBER 5: A manager holds an App...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I have to say that with my first couple days with the Droid, I’ve noticed some things that no one else has really bothered to mention. First, if anyone think that this is a contender for the iPhone, I would say that Apple really has some competition. This is definitely the first phone that I’ve touched that overall has a better feel and the apps actually are close enough to really give Jobs some heartburn.

Likes
Very smooth. If you have it linked to your wifi at home, when the signal disappears, it actually switches off to 3G immediately. No fuss, no muss. The interface moves very well. It does lag sometimes if you don’t have the right apps to shut down the apps that you quit from (why you can’t quit from an app is another annoyance that Google has to fix).

I love the notifications. I mean, that’s one thing that iPhone doesn’t do well, and notifications here are out of the way and are there when you want to look at them.

Maps integration and voice dial? Awesome. The entire Car Mobile feature is sweet and I think Garmin itself might have a contender on its hands. I’ll have to test it out more to find out.

The multimedia station sync is great. Immediately, my phone also became my alarm clock. Will have to note to self not to chuck alarm clock across the room…. not that I do that anyways, but still.

Vibrate function is super powerful. Now this might be somewhat annoying and I sorta wish people would make it so that you could control the level of vibrate sometimes, but a powerful vibrate always helps when you’re in a loud place and your phone goes off. There’s nothing more annoying than waiting for a call and missing it because you didn’t feel the vibrate feature. Entirely useless then, isn’t it?

OpenGL support. Android is basically a flavor of linux (don’t believe me? kernel is 2.6.9….), so we shouldn’t be surprised here but that makes 3D gaming and animation completely possible and with the smaller resolutions, you can guarantee some interesting gaming coming your way.

I’m not fond of keyboards, but the hardware keyboard is actually a nice one and compared to my Nokia n810 Wimax, it feels pretty good. The on-screen one could use a little work when it’s trying to detect what you’re trying to type so it corrects it after learning what letters you hit off in portrait mode.

Android Market is awesome. It might be a little more simple compared to the iTunes store, but when people complain about how there’s just not enough apps? From one geek to another, I’m going to say that there’s plenty out there. Plenty. Sometimes I wish open source apps were this easy to find.

Forget the in-the-box browser. Get Dolphin. Know how iPhone users are all talking about how they can zoom and such? Dolphin can do that. Now if only Google put it in all of their apps like Google Maps and such.

Dislikes
I don’t like the fact that BT headsets don’t have voice dialing. This is a problem of Google’s Android OS, and not the phone itself. Very annoying considering it’s a phone built by Motorola, and every past Motorola phone actually had BT voice dialing. This should have been brought up during testing by product development on Motorola’s side since it’s a feature they’ve had since… well, forever.

Don’t like the fact that you can’t quit from an app. Some apps might need to be persistent but out of the box, there are many that don’t have to run in the background. Very annoying out of the box. Fortunately, I went and grabbed Task Manager, and life is good again.

I also don’t like the fact that you can’t group contacts together from different sources. While an auto-merge might be a little crazy, the fact that you can sync your Facebook contact information with your Google accounts means that you’ll get a lot of duplication. Merging the two in a pseudo-group format would make life a lot easier and provide profile shots for those that you didn’t have profile pictures. Personally, I think the Android is missing out here but then again, somehow I doubt the iPhone can do it too (can anyone tell me one way or another? ).

Camera auto-focus. What? Seriously, the time it takes to auto-focus for certain apps, I’d rather do a manual focus feature. Oh wait, you can’t. But seriously now, this sounds like a fix that can be done via firmware.

In portrait mode, the on-screen keyboard is pretty blech. If you have big hands, it’s hard to type with it on there. Fortunately for landscape mode, eh?

Synopsis
It’s really a blanket bomb of my thoughts, but I really don’t see any reasoning why you can’t send text messages and surf and such while on a call like the iPhone commercial. Having worked in the telecommunications industry for over a decade on the infrastructure side, there’s not really any reason that it couldn’t happen unless the phone itself occupies resources that otherwise can’t be used for a call when on data, or vice versa. Of course, if people wanted to do it, it could still be done by using the same techniques as PTT on CDMA. Think about it.

I still haven’t seen any driving or flying games that require the accelerometer for turning that I’ve seen on the iPhone. But based on the sensitivity of Google Sky, I would say that the Droid can totally pick up the same type of gaming.

Battery life seems a bit lacking, but nothing out of the ordinary with a smartphone. Most of your battery goes to the radio and the LCD in a smartphone anyways. Some power-save features might be nice.

If you get down to the Verizon over AT&T for service? I’d agree completely on voice and data. There’s just no question when you compare the two networks. Part of the reason why I haven’t bothered with an iPhone.

With Google’s coffers, I think the Droid and Android phones in general have a really good shot at taking on the number one smartphone maker. There are a few things that I would start pushing and remind Google that when you’re gunning for the number one spot in mobile devices, your product can’t be in beta. Some of the dislikes that I mentioned above are staples of the mobile industry and need to be patched for all current and future phones. If you just let it be, people won’t want to use your product. Just as RF is finicky, domestic mobile users are finicky. And you just can’t rely on that type of situation when so many vendors are looking to your OS to end the slaughtering.

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Time Warner Cable Cutting Corners on Commercials?

twc Hate to say it, but Time Warner Cable really has annoyed me the for last time tonight. It was such a little thing, but with the really terrible Navigator “upgrade” that slowed down your actual channel surfing to a crawl and seemingly not have tested this in QA since it basically looks pretty but doesn’t actually function like the old firmware, it was amazing for the stupid parts to really become a problem.

Here’s the thing. Almost all commercials are not normalized for sound. In fact, I have a feeling this is done on purpose since all of them are louder and seem to be set on some sort of setting so that you would pay attention to it. But what really bugs me is when you’re actually enjoying a commercial (yes, there are some that are actually decent) and suddenly it cuts to another commercial in the middle. Now, if I were an advertiser and saw that I was spending money with this corporation and they were pulling me out of my costly advertising, I would be throwing up a fit. This happens on every channel, and has been for a long time but the recent Navigator change really has brought it out as even more of an annoyance.

Why can’t I downgrade back to the old firmware for my cable box? Why are commercials being cut short, or some getting cut right in the middle? Sometimes, it almost seems like they’re trying to fit in more than one commercial in the same slot to gain more advertising dollars. I don’t know that for sure, but there isn’t a darn good reason that not a single employee would not have seen this happen and at least tried to report the problem.

Does satellite television do the same? I don’t know, but I doubt it. It’s not that I really despise Time Warner Cable or anything. It’s just that if you’re going to push a quality product, then it should perform as good as the last one when it comes to software. If you’re telling your customers that are buying advertising from you that you’re going to be showing the ad, then don’t skimp on the “display” side. These are pretty basic when it comes to just the provision of goods and services and otherwise you lose the trust of your customers. And the last thing you need is to do that in this type of economy.