yesterday's technology tomorrow
Thursday, October 30, 2003Kinja
Meg's Project Lafayette is now called Kinja.....hopefully its release is imminent.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003Chad's Photos
About 7 years ago I was very lucky to be able to get transferred, briefly, to the research facility Andersen Consulting had outside Chicago. There I worked many with Chad Burkey who was the resident Intelligent Agents expert.
The 3+ months I spent there and the time around it gave me the first taste of the technology which I have since been fairly heavily involved with.
Chad was a fairly artistic type who would spend hours photoshopping up a copper bar UI component and also ran a B&O fan site.
Anyway...its good to see he has recently moved from tech research into full time photography..best of luck Chad.
Monday, October 27, 2003Panther Switcher Stolen!
I've been using Proteron's liteswitchx since I got my mac to replicate the Alt-Tab functionality on windows...and it has been sensational!!!!!
Now with the release of Panther, Apple has copied/stolen/leveraged the exact product designed and created by Proteron....shame Apple shame.
Proteron has written an open letter to apple asking for an explanation...and fair enough.
As much as I adore/love Apple I cannot understand why say 300k - 500k paid to Proteron in recognition would be too much.
Friday, October 17, 2003And what a big week (or few) its been in Online Music
Get it while its hot...iTune for windows is available for download.
Roxio's relaunched Napster is next week so there is plenty of action.
Thursday, October 16, 2003Time
I spend more time surfing the web than
- Watching TV
- Cooking and eating
- Seeing friends
- Playing with my children
- Talking with my wife (we even Im each other in the same room)
Granted....the Internet is totally tied to my work but still...
What about you??
Friday, October 10, 2003The Day eMusic Died
Well folks the gravy train is over. eMusic announced today that they are changing from an all you can eat business model to a 10$ gets you 40 tracks model.
Now I have a conflict of interest in writing about this as I own a substantial part of one of eMusic's main service suppliers so I'd like to see eMusic continue.
My understanding is that a large number let's say over 75% of people download less than 40 tracks a month hence making the $10 for 40 tracks a financial deal no worse than the current one they have for these users.
What has happened is that ostensibly eMusic has changed its service from offering free music in the minds of their subscribers to charging $10 a month (not 25c per track as it is not a la carte).
Changing from 0$ to 10$ has huge emotional baggage attached to it and I expect (and it is happening) a huge backlash with many many more than 25% of their subscribers (the ones who download more than 40 tracks) leaving in droves. And I expect a massive increase in downloads as the leaving subscribers grab what they can (how long will eMusic's bandwidth last??).
Aside from the $0 to $10 change, there is the perceived/real issue that most of the artists on emusic you have never heard of before. Now this doesn't make them crap...quite the opposite with there being many many great "finds" on the service which the previous all you can eat model made exceptionally compelling to explore and try. So you had a good:bad hit ratio of 1:8 lets say.
Under the new model this will not change and then perceived "risk" you have in downloading a track is that it is one of the 7 dud tracks rather than the 1 good one. Mathematically this pushes the cost of a good track to 8*0.40$ = $3.20 well above any existing model.
Before you all say hold on ben you can sample the songs....this is true But there are only 30sec clips on the service and for an unkown song/artist this does little to mitigate the risk for the majority of users out there...not to mention the fact that the clips don't easily link in with the service as well as itunes.
I think that eMusic in its new for can survive but it needs to do some new things.
What does eMusic need to do (in no real order)??
1) Improve the sampling service. Extend it to 75% of the song for samples.
2) Add user generated reviews of individual tracks.
3) Offer cheaper downloads for those super short tracks out there.
4) Get rid of the download manager and revert to easy click and download links.
5) Finally...hang on...this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Thursday, October 09, 2003The Game is Afoot
Changes are a happening at eMusic.....
Saturday, October 04, 2003Scrabbel
Last week I bought the Scrabble Card Game to play with Suzette. Last night we finally got around to a game...it was close until the end when Suzette pulled away....all this in spite of my inability to spell my first two turns.
Apparently according to the rest of the world farthar is spelt farther and I misspelt Chook...though I can't remember how...and i was finally left with an X which I had no idea what to do with.
Since 1996, I've been working, to various degrees, on recommendation systems; first at Accenture's research labs with the team who create Bargain Finder and since then at AgentArts working on Music and other entertainment recommendation systems. Most recently I built Blog Change Bot which is a little IM Bot which sends you a message when a site you are interested in is updated. Aside - The AOL network has troubles with large lists of buddies (in my case subscribers) so a rewrite of the app is ahead of me this weekend.
In 1998 I attended a conference on Intelligent Agents and did a workshop on Information Retrieval and related topics. Its been interesting how this theme has reappeared consistently over the years. Last week we got called by a company interested in us doing Movie Recommendations for them. This got me thinking about how we could create a database of movie recommendations. I remembered an available database of around 80,000 movie reviews and plot overviews. Traditionally, we have built recommendation databases by data mining people's usage patterns e.g songs downloaded, search terms, movies hired etc. but for this client none of this data was available. So I wondered if we could take the reviews and plots and automatically extract the most distinctive words from the text and match this against other movie's reviews and plots to generate a measure of similarity. So for the last 3 days I've been beaverishly coding what is basically a fully fledged search engine that processes and parses 80,000 XML files, creates and inverted index of them and then matches a query to specific movies. Next week with a few tweaks, we should have a comprehensive database of relationships. As an example, I searched for "nuclear bomb comedy", thinking of Dr Strangelove, and got Space Cowboys which was very accurate.
I'm pretty pleased with the effort so far and the results...not bad for 3 days work. I'll have a demo available in a week or so and point people to it then and hopefully it won't be long before you wander into the local video/dvd store and no longer have to hunt around to find something that you might like.
As some of you may be aware...Nokia invested in my company, AgentArts, last month so now I'm rolling in cash which is rapidly being spent on expensive french champagne and sushi for the developers (thats me).....I WISH!!!
Anyway...part of the deal was the promise of many cool gadgets which have yet to appear but we'll probably get some phones later this month which will be ace. The current phone of choice would be the Nokia 3650 which is tres snazzy AND some people (with far too much time on their hands) have coded Commodore 64, Acorn, and ZX Spectrum emulators for them which is ummmm geeky cool but is it useful...playing Elite maybe??
But the best app I've seen so far (via Rael) is Anti-Mosquito which is an app for your phone which emits a high frequency tone which mosquito's don't like and repels them....perfect for Summer BBQs in Australia!!!
So Nokia...time to bring on the phones!! Oh and the new Nokia Kaleidosciope, Medallion, Image Frame and Music Phone....
Random Pile of Ben
ben at neuronwave dot com