Monday, 28 August 2006

Star Tribune on Muni WiFi: FUD or Just Wrong?

The Strib’s Steve Alexander is on a Muni-WiFi bashing kick. In Sunday’s Slowdown in the Fast Lane, the angle was how the forthcoming Minneapolis muni-WiFi will make the current cable and DSL offerings look paltry and non-competitive. Oh – and we don’t get the maximum bandwidth out of our current pipes anyway. Really? Muni-WiFi isn’t going to change that.

In fact, I’m not planning to drop my existing offering for the $20/mn muni plan anytime soon. WiFi transfer rates don’t scale well. If anything, the muni plan is a cheap insurance policy – something we can check email on while the main line is uploading podcasts or the weekly backup.

Then today there’s this gem in the sidebar;

“A special wireless modem needed to gain access…”

But that’s it. No information on what “special” means. If it means 802.11b or 802.11g (i.e. what you already have) then yes Bill, that’s just bad reporting.

I expect so much from our dailies. Maybe I’d be happier if I started thinking of them like soap operas – quantity over quality.

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Mindy Greiling Just Stopped By

Mindy Greiling, state rep for St. Anthony, Lauderdale, and Roseville, just stopped by to say ‘Hi’.

I was in the basement organizing my tool shop (more on that later) when she rang the doorbell. I’m glad I took a moment to meet her.

Friday, 25 August 2006

A Recording in Any Medium Still Isn’t Buttermilk Pie

Rex Hammock doesn’t declare downloading music and video is the same as being there, but a PDF of a magazine is akin to a photograph of Buttermilk pie.

All recordings are “photographs of buttermilk pie”. A pale, pale substitute for being there. It continues to baffle me how digital artifacts are treated differently – images verses photographs verses text verses audio verses video.

Like the example I’ve used before, iPhoto can read from any number of cameras – but iTunes won’t allow the same library on multiple iPods. Makes no sense.

The All Commercial Television Channel is Nearly Here

A decade ago, I had this vision of a television channel – MTV for commercials. Above is the logo I drew up for it. Commercials would be presented in a structured way – by theme, brand history, actor, etc. In other words, the ads themselves would be the program.

Fast-forward to today, and I think we’re nearly there. Sure, there’s no Ad-J navigating us through the ads, but the volume of commercial advertisements on over-the-air TV, radio, even cable stations is there. The regularly scheduled program is arguably the theme tying the commercials together for 30 or 60 minute intervals.

Next step is to drop the program all together. All ads – continuously 24/7.

In fact, that’s where I see over-the-air broadcasts going in 5 years after today’s broadcasters deem their FCC licenses worthless and migrate distribution 100% online.

Flipping through the channels, you’ll see no big brands, all small, local businesses; used car dealers, family-owned restaurants, nail salons, etc. Just like those weird direct-mail coupon books.

LATER: 30 January 2007
It’s telling that the most stable, high-def segments picked up by our over-the-air HD TV antenna are the commercials.

16 April 2007

“What I think would be a great feature would be a dedicated part of TiVo’s menu (under ‘Now playing’?) that’s just ads. TiVo has a recommendation engine – let me rate the ads” – Rick Klau

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Pinger + Podcast = Common Sense Mobile Podcasting

A while back, I had this idea for mobile podcasting, along the lines of my ‘podcasting as mass voicemail’ mantra. Even picked up a domain name.

Thing is, I don’t know enough about how the mobile phone industry works to make it a go. No problem, looks like is on it.

If I, as a Pinger account holder could request an RSS feed to be pointed at my mobile phone number – Bingo, common sense mobile podcast receiving.

Yeah, rather than having my home pc download mp3 files, I could receive the podcast as a voicemail. Sure, this puts a time limit on the podcast – not a bad thing.

BTW – Pinger is funded by, Kliner Perkins, the same people funding PodShow, Tellme, Audible, Friendster, and Segway. So, hopefully, they’ll see this “synergy” as well.

The 5th Congressional District Race from My Corner

A couple weeks back, the family and I checked out the St. Anthony Village VillageFest parade (How could we not?). Of course, the candidates for the 5th District were there – well…I shook hands with Ember Reichgott Junge (points for a cool sign and strong German name) and Mike Erlandson (points for Sabo endorsement). I don’t remember seeing Paul Ostrow or Keith Ellison in person (losing points), but their reps were there…I think.

Afterwards, reviewing their positions – read like more a race for who disliked Bush more. Listening to the MPR State Fair debate, they’re tripping over each other on who’s more progressive. At first glance, they all look very similar.

Here’s a quick comparison table highlighting their differences from what I gleaned in the MPR debate. Note, they all talk real fast, so some of the quoting might be off, and yea, most of it is “what I heard”.

Universal Healthcare:
Ellison: We need to stand up to the Healthcare “man” – that’s why we don’t have it yet.
Ember: The Healthcare industry controls the federal government – that’s why we haven’t had it yet.
Erlandson: Democrats need a financing mechanism for universal health care – that’s why we don’t have it yet.
Ostrow: Healthcare is a national issue, needs a national solution – that’s why we don’t have it yet.

Public Transit:
Ellison: We need to stand up to the oil and coal industries.
Ember: We need lots more light rail lines. It takes years for light rail to happen.
Erlandson: All public transit should be free. We can find creative ways to fund stadiums, we need to do the same for public transit.
Ostrow: Me too.

Foreign Policy:
Ellison: I supported the cease fire, before the cease fire was cool. “I’m for talking with people…even those you don’t agree with.”
Ember: The prerequisite of peace is disarmament.
Erlandson: Israel is the only democracy in that region – it has a right to defend itself.
Ostrow: Iraq is a war of lies. The US has no international credibility – we need to rebuild those relationships.

Crime & Safety:
Ellison: I’ve got more street cred than Mike Erlandson.
Ember: Early childhood education is the #1 way to prevent crime.
Erlandson: More education for 3 & 4 year olds. Invest in the neighborhoods and fund education. More cops on the streets.
Ostrow: Republican policies have gutted public safety. We should add serial numbers to bullet casings.

President George Bush:
Ellison: Impeach him – I’ll do it right now.
Ember: Investigate impeachment, Congress needs to get a backbone. Bush needs to be accountable.
Erlandson: Let’s not waste the next two years on impeachment, Let’s fix the financial problems caused by the Republicans. Bush can make a war abroad, but not a peace at home.
Ostrow: Congress needs to put a smackdown on Bush – across the board.

On Raising Federal Taxes…
Ellison: Federal taxes need to be re-appropriated.
Ember: Repeal federal tax breaks for most affluent.
Erlandson: Federal taxes need to be raised on most affluent.
Ostrow: Me too.

On Bringing the Troups Home
Ellison: “I’m the peace candidate.”
Ember: All troups out in 12 months.
Erlandson: Set a date to begin withdrawal, apologize to the rest of the world for Bush’s failed war.
Ostrow: Troops out now, we need an exit strategy.

Final Pitch
Ellison: Vote for me, I’m endorsed by the DFL, and all y’all can help me take down the “man”.
Ember: Vote for me, I don’t like Bush, and I’ve been in office for 18 years and I’m a woman.
Erlandson: Vote for me, I’m endorsed by Sabo and have worked in Washington with him.
Ostrow: Vote for me, I don’t like Bush.

For me, Ostrow and Ember lost this debate. The race is between Ellison and Erlandson. I like Erlandson’s jawline more and his endorsement by Sabo. Ellison seems a little feisty. At this point, I can’t tell what Ellison’s Talk vs. Walk ratio is, so I’m still sticking with Erlandson.

For a longer, even more in-depth and snarky analysis, talk to Mr. Sponge.

Is Competition Simply Lack of Articulation?

“The main idea is that whatever market you are in, whether it’s big or not you should be number one and should do whatever it takes to get there.” – Aneil Weber

I’ll extend this and say, the only way to guarantee success is to pursue an a single niche to its extreme – be the only one serving a specific market in a specific way. I touched on this notion my One as the Ideal Podcast Audience Size thinking a while back.

From that perspective, there really is very little competition.

Wal-Mart and Target are both big box retailers, but the chances of anyone shopping at both are pretty slim. Each has their own identity and brand – those brands are similar only at the most cursory level.

Competition makes for easy press, but I think it detracts from serving customers.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Make Yourself at Home – The Internet is a Place

“…the place where any telephone call takes place” – William Gibson

This morning’s Citizen’s League conversation reminded me how not everyone considers this website a location. In the same way a park or a coffee shop is a location – a place where people meet for conversation. I’ve long seen blogs as back porches and think of the First Crack Podcast as a coffee shop (with free wifi) where you quietly eavesdrop on conversations for 20 minutes at a time.

The difference is one of synchronization. You’re reading this post minutes, hours, or years after I’ve written it. There’s a decent chance you can still comment (in some way) whenever this is. Dave Slusher calls it the Space Telephone. Conversations at the coffee shop down the block don’t work like that – we need to be near each other in both time and space. Making that much more difficult to accomplish. Especially when much prep work can be accomplished through the space phone.

This asynchrony is advantageous – biasing long-term discussion over short-term sound-bites. Through in the bit that hyperlinks are inherently a social cue and you’ve got an ecosystem to extend a “real” community electronically.

Bonus: Steve Borsch moblogged the event.

More Photos Here

Griff Wigley wrote up the event. Griff’s point is a good one – we need more stories to share, more dramatic examples of how easy-to-use internet tools can enable groups to make civic change.

Monday, 21 August 2006