Monthly Archives: July 2009

Apple Time Capsule (2TB) Unboxing

Yesterday, Apple announced updated Time Capsule’s.  The Time Capsule is a wireless router (802.11n) which contains a hard drive for easy backup in conjunction with the OS X application Time Machine.  The new Time Capsule’s come in a 1TB model for $299 and a 2TB model for $499.

Today, I picked up the new 2TB Time Capsule from my local Apple Store and unboxed it live on stream.  In terms of design the new Time Capsule is exactly the same.  The only thing different is that they dropped the 500GB model.  As I said before it is based on 802.11n (which should be an official standard sometime this fall), it has one USB 2.0 port for a printer or external hard drive, 1 Gigabit WAN port, 3 Gigabit LAN ports, and of course the power connector.

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Google Voice Review

Google Voice (formerly Grand Central) is a service that allows you to handle all of your phone communication functions in one place.  One of the major features of Google Voice is that it allows you to have all of your phone numbers routed through your Google Voice number.  For example, you can have your house and cell phone numbers routed to your Google Voice number which makes it easy for people to get in touch with you no matter where you are (or not, if you choose not to talk to them – more on that later).

But Google Voice is more than just a number routing system – it’s a complete communication tool.  It can receive your voice mail (and even transcribe it into text) and email (or SMS) you the message and the transcript.  Additionally, Google Voice is capable of sending, receiving, and storing text messages, screening calls, blocking callers, recording calls, creating conference calls, and much more.

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SearchMe: The Search Engine That Never Was

SearchMe, the visual search engine which currently is redirecting to Google, due to lack of funds and no buyer insight is essentially the search engine that never was.  Granted, there are a lot of search engines out there that really never take off, SearchMe is an interesting example to look at.  As I talked about in a previous post, “Open Letter: Attention All Search Engine Startups” I eluded to the fact that SearchMe was indeed failing even with all of the venture capital that these venture firms put towards it ($43.6 Million to be exact).

The problem with SearchMe is two-fold, first, it didn’t have enough money to get the word out, and second, even if it was able to get the word out, it really was never an efficient search engine.  If anything, it was an interesting concept with a decent monetization model.  While the visual search engine is a interesting concept, the change is still far too great from traditional user experience that it would confuse and turn off many users.

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Digsby Passes 1 Million Users

Digsby the multi-protocol IM client which allows you to connect to various instant messenger platforms such as AIM, Yahoo, and MSN, email services such as Gmail, as well as a number of social networking services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace has passed the 1 million user mark.  According to the press release from Digsby they have over 1 million users and over 3 million managed accounts.

dotSyntax (the company behind Digsby) is calling Digsby a “360º communication tool, designed to facilitate online conversations across all mediums with an intuitive interface and feature-rich options. With the ability to communicate via email, two-way text messaging, IM, Facebook, Twitter, GTalk, and audio/video chat, Digsby eliminates the need to have several browser windows and programs open.”

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How To: Remove DRM From Your Music

DRM, short for, Digital Rights Management can be quite a pain to deal with due to the restrictions it puts on the music or movies/videos you downloaded (and paid for) from online music services.  Granted, that while DRM is slowly dying, it’s still around in some places and causing trouble.  It’s also possible that even if your current music service is DRM free (such as iTunes) it wasn’t in the past and now they want you to pay an “upgrade fee” to get the DRM free version of the song which you bought over a year ago.  So how exactly can you go about removing that pesky DRM from the music and movies you paid for?  The best solution I have found is an application called Tunebite by Audials.

Tunebite provides a number of features and excellent functionality.  The way Tunebite works is that when you install the application it will create twelve (12) virtual sound cards which it uses to play and re-record the song without the DRM.  This method through my testing and usage has proved highly effective.  It’s fast (this also depends on your computer specifications) and provides excellent quality recordings.  They sound identical and for anyone who knows me I’m an audio quality freak.  It even provides a “Perfect Audio” feature which guarantees an 100% perfect audio output.  Note: using the perfect audio feature may cause a slower conversion process due to the program comparing the files bit by bit.

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I Told You MySpace Should Focus On Music

According to recent Nielsen data for June 2009, traffic to MySpace Music has grown 190% since its launch in September 2008 and year-over-year traffic to the URL has increased a whopping 1,017%.  Additionally, MySpace Music the third largest music destination on the web (within that category of sites) only behind AOL Music and Yahoo! Music.  While MySpace Music is still behind AOL and Yahoo! it is beating out other popular music oriented sites like MTV, MSN Music, and Pandora.

The majority of the traffic is coming from the age groups 12-17 and 18-24.  Visitors between the ages 12 and 17 were 2.4 times more likely than the average active Internet user to visit MySpace Music, while visitors between 18 and 24 were 2.2 more likely than the average Internet user to visit the site in June.  (See charts after the jump)

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The Future May Revolve Around “Freemium” Products

In one of Jeff’s previous articles he expressed antipathy about the company LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM), because the vast majority of its users opted only for the free service. At face value, it seems like he’s right: 10% monetization doesn’t look like a large number, not when physical products have numbers like 100%.

The thing is, that 10% is out of 70,000,000. Even if they only charged a dollar, that would net them $7,000,000. Not too shabby, assuming that the 10% of 70 million is an accurate number. (This is only an example. I’ve seen a stock chart that puts the price/earnings ratio of LogMeIn in the negatives, which isn’t a good sign. I’ve also seen charts that put it in the positive, which is a good sign. I’m not saying you should go and buy up their stock.) The point I’m making is, you can’t just jump at a number. Even in online industries people are slow to come to grips with the new business models that are coming out.

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Microsoft’s XBox 360 Indie Games Has Huge Potential

Most of you probably haven’t heard of it, but there was a huge moment at the last E3, a moment that everyone seems to have forgotten. It could potentially alter the game industry. The problem is, it’s being run by Microsoft. Those of you who payed attention to the last E3 know that I’m talking about Xbox360 Community Games, recently renamed Xbox360 Indie Games. Maybe I’m being a little unfair to Microsoft, but as someone who uses C# and the XNA development library, I have a bit invested in seeing this whole idea of community development get off the ground.

Microsoft has actually done some good things. There was more in the whole project when it was first announced than I would have expected, and that got me really excited – like: users rating and passing games, not some moderator; plenty of free tools; plenty of tutorials and help on the forums; etc. The problem is, beyond that, they haven’t done much. After the initial announcement, publicity for it sort of died down, and Microsoft has done nothing to advertise it. I was surprised that they didn’t have any major announcements regarding Indie Games this E3. Just from a marketing standpoint, I was betting that they would try and save up some big announcement for E3 to give the service a boost, but the best we got was a name change. Not exactly what I had in mind.

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The Future Of News

In my last article, I talked about what the newspaper industry is doing to stay afloat. Their biggest worry now is monetizing their content, which is understandably hard on a medium designed specifically to facilitate the easy transfer of information. Currently, their strategy revolves around pay-walls, but pay-walls heavily favor primary sources over smaller news providers, not to mention slow the flow of information and irritate the average user to no end.

The most obvious alternative to pay-walls would be micro-payments, but that system is currently underdeveloped. (I think the fact that newspaper companies can’t get on board with a system developed years ago for other media, showcases just how infrastructurally encumbered they are.) The problem is micro-payments still require the user to sign up and log in. The log-in part could be easily circumvented by associating accounts with IP addresses. The advantage to this is networks like those on college campuses can easily get general access to newspaper articles, and of course only have to pay according to what their students actually read. In addition to this, they could have networks of newspapers, where you can sign up all at once for several news sources, cutting out a lot of the hassle. I could easily see News Corp. enabling general purpose accounts for all of its newspapers.

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Will Newspapers Be Able To Survive The Economic Downturn?

One of the common topics these days, especially across political blogs, is whether or not the newspaper industry will survive its current troubles (and whether or not it deserves to). I think everyone has heard a thousand times since last year how much the news industry is struggling, how no-one reads anymore, and how the internet is making everyone ADD. But what’s actually going on inside the industry?

Truth be told, things are fairly bad on average, but the spread of the troubles is very stilted. Even with how much papers like the New York Times are fretting, they still stand a good chance to weather the recession well. The trouble is with smaller news papers, as illustrated by this helpful graphic from the New York Times in early March (the article was free to access by the way, irony?).

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