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How far does the internet go? April 17, 2007

Posted by Abby in innovation, Internet, Technology.
6 comments

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. It’s only been 1 day since the Virginia Tech tragedy, and already there are all kinds of things that have been published about the student. His assignments for a Creative Writing class, and scripts have all been made public online. There is an audience for it too, everyone seems to be hungry to find out what his motivations were.

If we simply looked back, perhaps 5 years, none of this would be available. Online documents/readings/files of another student. The curiosity of the public, and how much they want to know is slowly affecting the design and abilities of the internet.

On a separate note, in my ‘Topics in Gender Studies’ class, we were discussing porn. Our professor mentioned that it is the porn industry and it’s technicians that are the driving force creating new technologies for the web. This is an example of how a market drives what technologies need to be created, and how technicians might be inspired and given new ideas.

Update (4/18)
Here is a little section from a reading that I have for this English class, relating to the internet and developing technologies:

“The Internet and all sex trade, tourism, trafficking and pornography are experiencing unprecedented growth. Donna Hughes claims that “the Internet as a communications medium would exist without the sex industry, but the Internet industry would not be growing and expanding at its present rate without the sex industry” (2000:36). In 1998, it was estimated that 69 percent of the total Internet content sales were related to adult content (Hughes 2000). Jonathon Coopersmith reminds us that what is driving the transformation of the sex industry technology has been “the great capitalist engines of innovation and the quest for profits” (28). Internet pornography has become the highest growth, highest profit market ever known (Hughes; Coopersmith). “

– ‘E-Brides: The Mail-Order Bride Industry and the Internet’ by Julie Pehar

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No More Meetings April 17, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Technology, telecommunications.
4 comments

When we graduate from Bucknell we are all going to have to be present in meetings with our colleagues to discuss new products, marketing plans, ect. How many of you think that you are going to enjoy these long office meetings? What if you did not have to go to these conferences but still be able to get the necessary information? You could listen to the conference whenever was convenient for you, would you like this? I think that everyone’s answer would be yes. The world still isn’t perfect, but a few conference-call companies are definitely moving it in the right direction: New podcasting services allow the meeting-intolerant to subscribe to in-house meeting feeds. LiveOffice, a traditional conference-call provider, racked up more than 100,000 subscriber downloads in 2006 after launching its podcast service in late August. In fact, usage grew about 30 percent each month, the company says.

“People want to do business on their own time,” explains LiveOffice CEO Alexander Rusich.

“There is an absolute need for [podcasting],” agrees Elliot Gold, president of TeleSpan, a teleconferencing-industry consulting firm.

LiveOffice isn’t alone in the podcast game. Free Conferencing is among the rival call providers that have gotten into the act, and startups like TalkShoe, which originally focused on bloggers, have begun signing up businesses that want to record and distribute their meetings; TalkShoe plans to add a video version next year. What do you think about this new technology? Would you spend some of your hard earned dollars so you would not have to sit in conference meetings?

Apple TV April 4, 2007

Posted by Bertan in innovation, Technology.
2 comments

Apple Inc. announced last wednesday that they are starting to ship a new product line into the US market. The product is called APPLE TV and for the moment only supports media downloaded through itunes. However, the media played on Apple TV will be the same as DVD quality with superb sound techonology. Apple TV works through a wireless connection and is touted as delivering entertainment to a TV screen rather than watching the media on your personal computer. The new product will have a memory of 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs or 25,000 photos, or a combination of the three formats. The price at the moment stands at $299.

I chose this article because we went over this topic in class last week. Apple has been growing dramatically over the past 5 years due to changes in their management, designs, reliable and super products and creative advertising. I feel like every time I look online at the Apple site, they have introduced something new whether its software or hardware. This shows they are trying to enter new markets and keep growing, however I am also worried that they might be trying too hard. You may disagree with me, but I feel that some of the new products we see in their stores are completely useless. I am really curious to see what happens with this new TV because I feel like it would be a complete waste of money. What do you guys think?

The Future of Books March 28, 2007

Posted by breichen in civil society, innovation, Internet, Knowledge economy, Retail, Technology.
4 comments

Employees of Google, the world’s largest web-search company, are scanning books into computers using secret methods at secret locations. Although Google has not released any official tallies, Daniel Clancy, the project’s top engineer, has given some clues as to what is actually going on. He has stated that Google has a contract with UC Berkeley requires them to digitize some 3,000 books a day for the university. Google also has contracts with 12 other universities and a number of independent publishers. Some conservative estimates are that Google will be digitizing books at a rate of 10 million per year. The total number of book titles said to exist is estimated at 65 million.

This is not the first project like this to exist. The Internet Archive is a non-profit organization created in 1996 by Brewster Kahle in the attempt to recreate a contemporary Library of Alexandria containing all public-domain texts and videos. Other organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have all been scanning books but the scale to which Google is digitizing them is far greater than any of them.

As books go digital, new questions, both philosophical and commercial, arise. How, physically, will people read books in future? Will technology “unbind” books, as it has unbundled other media, such as music albums? Will reading habits change as a result? What happens when books are interlinked? And what is a book anyway?

The physical medium of books is unlikely to disappear in the digital age. Sony already sells an electronic book reader with about 12,000 titles available for download. Ron Hawkins, head of marketing for the Sony Reader, states that ““our mission is not to replace the print book.” You may be wondering then, who is going to be reading the millions of pages being digitized by Google and their competitors? The idea is that some people will read the books on a computer screen, some will use Google as a method for previewing books they are considering purchasing in paper form, and some will use the service to “look for specific snippets that interest them.”

Print media is already being diminished by digital replacements. Wikipedia for example, is a free online encyclopedia which is said to have severely reduced the sales of paper-bound alternatives. It is speculated that books which people would not ordinarily read all the way through or that require frequent updates will likely migrate to the digital medium. Other examples of print media being accessed in a digital format more and more frequently include dictionaries, cookbooks or recipes, telephone books/directories, etc.

It will be interesting to see how Google’s project turns out. I think it would be pretty amazing if you could get a digital copy of ANY book in the world just by searching Google Books. I don’t think, however, that paper-bound books are likely to disappear behind the shadow of the digital book.

Microsoft Xbox 360 March 28, 2007

Posted by Charley S in innovation, media, Technology.
3 comments

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8O538L01.htm

The video game industry is a very competitive market.  Manufacturers don’t make money on actual console sales, they have to make all of their profits on the games that are sold at ridiculously high prices now approaching $60.  Realizing this, Microsoft with its Xbox 360 has moved to take advantage of this trend.  Through Xbox live, owners of the console can download movies, tv shows and complete games to play on the Xbox.  This program has been an unparalleled success, so much so that now Microsoft is releasing a beefed up Xbox system that has 100 more gigabytes of storage space for music and movies. 

What we are witnessing here is the increased trend towards technology combining into more integrated systems.  We’ve discussed the trend in cell phones that are now practically computers on their own, however the trend is evident in the video game arena now.  For companies like Microsoft and Sony this is a way for them to increase profits at very little cost to themselves because they are not enduring any of the creation costs of the media they sell and are basically acting as a middle man between media companies and consumers.  You can already link up your Xbox to your computer and tv, what’s next?  Before you know it alarm clocks, cell phones, stereos, game systems and refrigerators will all be linked together.  Microsoft is currently in the lead compared to rivals Sony and Nintendo when it comes to online content and as such they will probably enjoy considerable first mover advantages.  In addition, being the giant corporation that Microsoft is, I believe that they will be able to capitalize on this advantage and sink the necessary capital into this program to achieve market domination.

Hate Static on the Radio? March 25, 2007

Posted by K.C. in Auto's, Manufacturing, media, Technology.
4 comments

Radio broadcasters and audio tuner companies are finally using digital Radio, a new type of radio technology. The technology is called HD radio, not an abbreviation for High Definition, was developed by iBiquity Digital Corporation and was introduced about three years ago. Compared to analog radio, which is currently broadcast, this new radio technology will supposedly produce much better sound quality without any static interference.

In its first introduction, the high cost of implementing the new technology deterred radio stations and audio component manufacturers from introducing the technology to consumers but because of a recent drop in costs have began to adopt it. When HD radio was introduced, broadcasters were hesitant to adopt the technology because of the high cost consumers would have to pay for the new HD head units (car stereo). However, prices have dropped and companies now offer HD head units for around $200 and installation is comparable with satellite radio conversions.

Aside from the quality of sound from HD radio, what is interesting is the fact that no subscription is needed to receive HD stations and most large radio stations offer or will soon offer HD radio broadcasts. Furthermore, HD radio broadcasters can also offer several different broadcasts on the same frequency. This will therefore allow radio stations to target several niches of listeners and give their audiences a choice of several different broadcasts. However, thus far only BMW has announced they will offer HD radio tuner options in their cars.  

Do people see this as a viable alterative to satellite radio? Can HD compete with Sirius/XM radio?   

Google gets Sued March 23, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Internet, media, Technology.
4 comments

I thought that it was ironic that we were talking about places where people watch movies or clips on the internet then I found this article. Viacom Inc. sued the video-sharing site YouTube and its corporate parent, Google Inc. seeking more than $1 billion in damages on claims of widespread copyright infringement. Viacom claims that YouTube has displayed nearly 160,000 unauthorized video clips from its cable networks, which also include Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon. This is the biggest confrontation between a major media company and the video sharing site owned by Google. The lawsuit came nearly six weeks after Viacom demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 unauthorized clips after several months of talks over licensing arrangements broke down. YouTube agreed at the time to comply and said it cooperates with all copyright holders to remove programming as soon as they’re notified, but since then, Viacom has identified more than 50,000 additional unauthorized clips. What do you think about the lawsuit? Do you think that Viacom has a legit reason to sue YouTube?

 

Copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material protected by intellectual property rights law, specifically copyright law, in a manner that violates one of the original copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement

 

Other media companies have also clashed with YouTube over copyrights, but some, including CBS Corp. and General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, have reached deals with the video-sharing site to license their material. CBS Corp. “We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community,” Google said. Personally, I use YouTube everyday and I think that they have a great selection of material that an individual can watch on their. I wonder is it too late for YouTube to reach a deal now.  

Brain-controlled Games and Devices March 21, 2007

Posted by breichen in innovation, Technology.
7 comments

The possibility of controlling devices by using one’s mind alone has been a subject frequently depicted in the world of science fiction. What used to be fiction however, is now a reality. Two companies in California, Emotiv Systems and Neurosky, have promised that systems controlled by mere thoughts are going to be available on the market within the next year. The technology being used by these two organizations is known aselectroencephalography, or EEG. EEG works by ” deploying an array of electrodes over a person’s scalp and recording surface manifestations of the electrical activity going on under his skull.” These companies are using the technology, which was previously used only in the medical field, to allow the transportation of brain waves to be used in computer games. This would enable people to control the operations of a computer using their thoughts alone (Very Cool).

Tedious fiddling about with mice and joysticks will become irritants of the past.

The EEG technique is currently used mostly in the medical field, where crude brain waves are the outputs of electrodes placed on a persons head. Analysis of these patterns allows doctors use the waves to identify unhealthy abnormalities. Controlling computers by using brain waves has long been considered within the realm of possibility, although there were two significant impediments–those of hardware and software. The hardware issue is that current EEG techniques use a large helmet with as many as 120 electrodes in it, which have to be attached to the scalp with a conducting gel. The software issue is that to use these brainwaves i na computing environment, a huge number of brainwaves must be interpreted instantly and simultaneously.

Neurosky and Emotiv Systems believe that they have solved both of these problems. Emotiv has announced that they have developed a headset with only 18 electrodes that does not require gel to make sufficient contact with a wearer’s scalp. Emotiv explains that “its system can detect brain signals associated with facial expressions such as smiles and winks, different emotional states such as excitement and calmness, and even conscious thoughts such as the desire to move a particular object.” While the specifics of the technology have not been released, it is apparently successful enough that smiling can cause a person’s character in a game to smile, or to move things around by the person who is playing thinking about moving things around. In order to encourage others to create more possibilities of EEG in the computer world, Emotiv has released a software developers kit so that this technology can be expanded. It will also allow programmers to go back and rewrite code for existing games so that the Emotive headset can be used with existing games and applications.

According to Nam Do, Emotiv’s boss, those applications are most likely to be single-player computer games running on machines such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3. In the longer term, though, he thinks the system will be ideal for controlling avatars (the visual representations of players) in multiplayer virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Emotiv’s competitor, Neurosky, has stated that they have reduced the size of an EEG headset even further, consisting of only one electrode which is small enough to fit in a mobile phone. While it is not as sensitive or accurate as Emotiv’s 18 sensor headset, it is significantly cheaper and seems to be quite promising.

This technology is incredibly cool and if properly developed it could change the way we use and think of computers. Imagine being able to write and edit a paper merely by sitting in front of your computer and thinking? Perhaps investing in these companies now might be a good idea.

Business Week’s 50 Top Performers March 20, 2007

Posted by Stephanie in Customer Service, Finances, innovation, Internet, Manufacturing, media, pharmaceutical, Public Interest, Retail, Technology, telecommunications.
2 comments

 

Business Week recently announced its yearly 50 Best Performers article in the March 26, 2007 edition of the magazine. When first looking even at the title of the article I was skeptical about how these companies were selected. It seems impossible to compare every company in every sector and rank their performance. I was pleased however to find their criteria for making the selections seems to be as fair as possible.

Financially they use specific criteria and what they look for in companies when making this list. The two principal financial figures Business Week uses in its analysis are average return on capital and sales growth over the past 36 months. They also consider the importance of examining sectors separately, as factors within one particular sector may inflate or deflate the appearance of a company’s performance unfairly.

Specific quotations I highlighted when reading the article regarding what BW determines as strategies for success:

“…rewriting the rules of engagement in their industries.”

“…a deep understanding of customers, a competitive advantage that has enabled them to sell more good and services than rivals.”

“…work hard to anticipate and head off potential problems well before outsiders are even aware of these looming challenges.”

Details about all 50 companies are included in the compilation of roughly 40 pages of discussion. One particular company I had not heard of before, ranked 31 is Stryker. The company manufactures artificial joints, such as knees, shoulders and hips. Part of their success is due to the baby boomer generation who show no signs of slowing down in retirement even as natural aging takes is toll. Anther interesting aspect of the company is its preparation in changing CEO’s. As the current CEO, John Brown is planning on retiring, COO, Stephen MacMillan has had roughly 4 years to shadow and plan the transition. Both the process the company has developed for the transition and the mere fact that the CEO is not being forced out of the company it seems are two incidents not seen as often anymore.

I am still hesitant to agree that companies covering the full spectrum of all organizations and industries can not only be compared but ranked in a hierarchy. Business Week does an excellent job at attempting this challenge but I feel that some subjective factors weigh into the decision, especially between close rankings, say between spot 8 and 9.

 

1 Google

2 Coach

3 Gilead Sciences

4 Nucor

5 Questar

6 Sunoco

7 Verizon Communications

8 Colgate-Palmolive

9 Goldman Sachs Group

10 Paccar

11 Amazon.com

12 Cognizant Technology Solutions

13 Avon Products

14 Varian Medical Systems

15 Bed Bath & Beyond

16 CB Richard Ellis Group

17 Robert Half International

18 Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings

19 Adobe Systems

20 EOG Resources

21 Sempra Energy

22 Sherwin-Williams

23 Lehman Brothers Holdings

24 Rockwell Collins

25 IMS Health

26 Allegheny Technologies

27 Oracle

28 Starbucks

29 Moody’s

30 PepsiCo

31 Stryker

32 Best Buy

33 United Parcel Service

34 Apple

35 T. Rowe Price Group

36 Valero Energy

37 Constellation Energy Group

38 TJX

39 Morgan Stanley

40 Paychex

41 Coventry Health Care

42 United States Steel

43 United Technologies

44 Hershey

45 Black & Decker

46 Synovus Financial

47 Linear Technology

48 AT&T

49 XTO Energy

50 PNC Financial Services Group


Alternative Workspaces March 20, 2007

Posted by Stacey Swift in environment, Internet, Technology, work-family balance, Workplaces.
2 comments

The invention of the Internet made working from the home a possibility for many employees. Technology such as telephones, laptops, fax machines, and even web-cams helped to make home offices a great alternative for many people. Whether its being home with the kids or working on a different coast, people no longer need to leave their home in order to conduct business. Recently, people are discovering the advantages of “alternative work-spaces” rather than isolating yourself in a home office. Darius Roberts is a 27 year old starting a company that prefers to work out of a coffee shop rather than his apartment. Those who work at home often complain of loneliness and lack of a social network. With access to wireless and coffee and the opportunity to meet other developers he finds the coffee shop to be a productive “office.” In addition to informal work spaces such as coffee shops, more structured communal work spaces have been introduced. Roberts found a flyer for the Hat Factory, a community office space that offers a communal kitchen, a desk, private meeting room, and a lounge for just $10 a day or $170 a month. He says this encourages more meaningful connections than just a coffee shop. It is a great place for entrepreneurs to share not only resources but also ideas and network.

co-working facilities help fill the social needs people have as well—either informally, by simply bringing together a group of people with similar interests, or formally, through networking events, holiday parties, and even softball leagues.

Last week in class we discussed social networks. The use of technology has broken down many social networks, eliminating a lot of the personal interaction that used to be necessary. Do you think working from home is a good option? People do have social needs, does working from home destroy these social networks, or is being able to conference call to an office a sufficient alternative? I think as long as a certain level of personal interaction is maintained working from home can be a great alternative, especially for those with children. Additionally, for those who feel lonely at home or are just starting up a business I think the use of community offices is a great way to create social networks. People who would otherwise be working in isolation can share their ideas with others in similar situations. How much social interaction does one need to work?