Friday, August 29, 2008

Comcast will start limiting your usage

This is important:

By Yinka Adegoke Thu Aug 28, 10:20 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Comcast Corp, the largest U.S. cable operator, said on Thursday it will cap customers' Internet usage starting October 1, in a bid to ensure the best service for the vast majority of its subscribers.

Comcast said it was setting a monthly data usage threshold of 250 gigabytes per account for all residential high-speed Internet customers, or the equivalent of 50 million e-mails or 124 standard-definition movies.

"If a customer exceeds more than 250 GB and is one of the heaviest data users who consume the most data on our high-speed Internet service, he or she may receive a call from Comcast's Customer Security Assurance (CSA) group to notify them of excessive use," according to the company's updated Frequently Asked Questions on Excessive Use.

Customers who top 250 GB in a month twice in a six-month timeframe could have service terminated for a year.

Comcast said up to 99 percent of its 14 million Internet subscribers would not be affected by the new threshold, which it said would help ensure the quality of Internet delivery is not degraded by a minority of heavy users.

U.S. Internet subscribers are typically not aware of any limit on their Internet usage once they sign up to pay a flat monthly fee to their service provider.

As Web usage has rocketed, driven by the popularity of watching online video, photo-sharing and music downloading services, cable and phone companies have been considering various techniques to limit or manage heavy usage.

But Comcast has come under fire from a variety of sources for its network management techniques.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission investigated complaints by consumer groups that it was blocking peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent, and earlier this month ordered Comcast to modify its network management.

Comcast has said that by the end of the year it will change its network management practices to ensure all Web traffic is treated essentially the same, but has also been exploring other ways to prevent degradation of its Internet service delivery.

One consumer group said while Comcast's new 250 GB limit was "relatively high," it could eventually ensnare customers as technology progresses.

"If Comcast has oversold their network to the point of creating congestion problems, then well-disclosed caps for Internet use are a better short-term solution than Comcast's current practice of illegally blocking Internet traffic," said S Derek Turner of Free Press, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group that filed a complaint about Comcast's network management practices earlier this year.

The Philadelphia-based company is not alone in trying to come up with ways to limit heavy Internet usage.

Time Warner Cable Inc, the second-largest U.S. cable operator, said in January it would run a trial of billing Internet subscribers based on usage rather than a flat fee.

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said Comcast was also considering so-called consumption-based billing, but no decisions had been made.

(Editing by Braden Reddall)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Internet directories

Little is told of the real search space that Google and Yahoo and MSN and others use frequently. These areas are the places that the search leaders come to look. They see if your company is in the directory and if it is, it is placed or taken into their main search database. enters all of its customers periodically in these directories. If you want to know if you are in there, just e-mail me and I will send you a verification. If for any reason you are not, we will enter you as part of your support!

Dell and a new direction

Computer buzz news:

BEIJING, China (AP) -- Dell Inc. unveiled four low-cost computer models for China, India and other emerging economies Wednesday in a new bid to tap the potential of high-growth markets outside the United States.
A sales clerk in China looks at a display computer in the Chinese retail outlet Gome in Beijing, China.

A sales clerk in China looks at a display computer in the Chinese retail outlet Gome in Beijing, China.

The two notebook and two desktop PCs are the first Dell models designed especially for emerging markets, said Steve Felice, the U.S. computer maker's president for the Asia-Pacific.

They are meant for small-business users and are to be sold in 20 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Strong sales in Asia helped Dell turn in better-than-expected results in the last quarter despite a slowing U.S. economy. It is due to report its latest quarterly results after the U.S. markets close Thursday, and analysts are watching whether it can maintain its growth pace.

"Our success is going to be largely dependent on our ability to expand globally," Felice said in an interview.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who is on line and where?

Take a look at this it is interesting!

In a recent interview with Josh Bernoff, co-author of the new book Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed by Social Technologies, we discussed the need to put people before objectives, strategy and technology (just remember the acronym P.O.S.T and you’ve got it). Keep that in mind when considering these other stats about the online population* from the book:

* 25% read blogs, visit social networking sites, and/or read customer reviews
* 20% regularly update/maintain a profile on a social networking site
* 18% contribute to online forums or discussion groups
* 14% comment on someone else’s blog
* 11% post ratings/reviews of products or service, publish, maintain or update a blog, and/or listen to podcasts
* 8% use RSS
* 5% use Twitter

*Figures represent percentage of online U.S. adults participating at least monthly.

Some copy writing skills

This is important when building a good web page that people will pay attention to

* Bullets- Listing out items in bulleted lists makes it much easier for a visitor to get useful information. Bulleted lists work great for emphasizing multiple benefits, as each benefit gets sufficient space to stand out and all of the benefits can be quickly scanned by visitors wondering if a given product or service will satisfy their needs.

* Bolding- Within paragraphs of copy, it’s a good idea to bold the more critical text. Visitors’ eyes will be able to quickly latch onto those important, bolded points amidst the rest of the text. That said, use bolding sparingly as too much will simply overwhelm visitors and actually hurt your visitors’ ability to skim and scan your text.

* Hyperlinks- Hyperlinks’ contrasting blue color and underlining also grab the eye and cause hyperlinked words to pop out at visitors. But since links are clickable, those hyperlinked words and phrases can also be used to qualify visitors and move them to pages and messaging crafted to speak to and answer more specific needs and questions - stuff that may not interest everyone but that will be important to specific segments of your audience.

* Sub-headlines- Break your content up into sections and label those sections with Sub-headlines (also called subheads). Once you’ve done that, try reading just the subheads and see if you come away with the gist of page’s content. Not only will this help visitors quickly scan the page for content, but it will also allow them to skip down to the section that’s most important to them. And as an added bonus, Sub-headlines help create needed whitespace for your page layout.

* White Space- White space makes it easier for visitors to find information and focus on what they are really looking for. Ensure you leave white space by breaking up long paragraphs (consider more than 5 stacked lines to be too long), using sub-headlines and bullets, and by maintaining decent margins and line spacing. Web copy should never look intimidating or too densely packed.

* Jargon- Using highly technical words or industry jargon inhibits skimming and scanning for anyone who isn’t 100% familiar with the terminology. As a general rule, copy on a broad-audience website should be at or below a fifth grade reading level. If specific technical terms are necessary, say if they are a key search term, link them to a glossary or FAQ, or explain the terms within the text itself.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why regular TV is going digital!

Here is the real reason that in Fe. 2009 you rTV will stop working in many areas of you rhome:

FCC to Decide in Battle for TV Spectrum
As Google, Others
Push for Sharing,
Broadcasters Fret
August 18, 2008; Page B1

Landover, Md. -- After eight months of testing, a plan to employ unused TV channels to provide cheap, high-speed wireless Internet networks still faces determined opposition and an uncertain future.

The Federal Communications Commission will have the final say in the battle between the broadcasters -- which fear interference on the airwaves they'll still be using -- and the companies including Google Inc. and Motorola Inc. that want to share the television airwaves, using them for high-speed wireless service that could spur the development of new wireless gadgets.
[Kevin Martin]

In September, the FCC is expected to report its findings on tests of prototype "smart radios" that can pinpoint which local broadcast channels are being used and then avoid them. Shortly after that, its five commissioners are expected to take up the issue of whether those TV airwaves can be shared, with an eye to setting rules for their use by year end.

"Spectrum is very valuable and we want to make sure it's being used as efficiently as possible," says FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. "The idea of trying to utilize the 'white spaces' from a consumer perspective would be a good win for everyone."

White spaces are swaths of broadcast spectrum that will be left open after TV stations switch to digital broadcasting in February. This spectrum is valuable because signals can travel great lengths on it, and because it allows them to penetrate buildings, unlike airwaves used by some wireless phones and devices. The slivers of airwaves currently set aside for cordless phones, Bluetooth devices and Internet Wi-Fi networks are also getting crowded, and tech companies want more unlicensed airwaves to use.

"I like to think of it as Wi-Fi on steroids," Google co-founder Larry Page told FCC lawyers, congressional staff and lobbyists in June during his first lobbying trip to Washington. "It would make a huge difference for everybody."

White-spaces fans see a world in which empty TV channels could be used to deliver cheap, high-speed wireless Web access to consumers without forcing them to buy a latte. They envision installing a few antennas over a wide area to create a "mesh" network that delivers wireless Internet service. Previous efforts to do that with Wi-Fi antennas haven't been that successful, because their signals are weak and as a result the networks required a large number of antennas.

Letting wireless gadgets share TV-station airwaves could unleash a boom in new consumer electronics not seen since Wi-Fi took off about a decade ago, say companies including Google and Intel Corp., which are lobbying heavily for sharing.

"We have medical devices, laptops, even toys that are starting to incorporate Bluetooth. We want the wireless revolution to continue, but the little spectrum we have won't get us there," says Neeraj Srivastava, director of technology policy at Dell Inc.

Broadcasters are fighting the effort, arguing that their signals will get messed up, along with their businesses. "The only way we operate as a business is if our viewers get a clear TV picture. Given the fact that there's been a series of failures (in testing) at the FCC it doesn't give us a lot of comfort," says Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.

Wireless microphone companies have joined the opposition, worried the new devices could prompt their microphones to fail. Many of their users, including the Grand Ole Opry, Broadway theaters and the National Football League, have appealed to the FCC to proceed with caution.

The technology companies are trying to prove they can share some of those channels without harm. They say their wireless gadgets with "smart radios" can automatically sniff out local broadcast channels and avoid them.

So far, though, the FCC's tests of these prototypes -- in labs, a football stadium and even a Broadway theater -- haven't offered a clear conclusion. Recently, FCC engineers spent a day at FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins. Several engineers roamed the football stadium for hours, testing two prototype boxes designed to figure out which TV channels and wireless microphones were in use.

Neither box worked perfectly. A prototype designed by Philips Electronics NV's Philips Electronics North America Corp. was too sensitive: It said every TV channel in the stadium was in use, which wasn't the case. The other, from a Singapore research group, picked up some channels in use in the area but not others.

On the sidelines, Bruce Franca, an engineer representing the Association for Maximum Service Television, a group that handles technical issues for broadcasters, argued with Monisha Ghosh, a Philips researcher who insisted that her company's device was doing what it was supposed to do: find TV channels in use.

"Our device is a little more sensitive," said Ms. Ghosh, to a snort from Mr. Franca. Nearby, representatives from the NFL, Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and wireless-microphone manufacturer Shure Inc., crowded around the FCC engineers, some shaking their heads and muttering about the devices not working. For months, engineers from both sides have been claiming that the testing results prove their case.

It has been more than two decades since the FCC refereed a battle like this. Back then, in 1985, a staff engineer convinced the agency that unlicensed gadgets could share so-called garbage airwaves without disturbing the microwave ovens and other devices that already used them. It was a radical step for the agency, which had never set aside airwaves for unlicensed use by still-to-be invented gadgets.

Within a few years, industry standards were developed for those airwaves and Wi-Fi was born. Coffee-shop and home Internet hot spots flourished as a variety of other gadgets, including Bluetooth devices, also began using the unlicensed airwaves.

Technology company executives argue that if the FCC simply sets broad rules for sharing TV airwaves, engineers will come up ways to use them without disrupting TV channels or wireless microphones. Regulators in the U.K. did that recently, issuing rough guidelines that would allow unlicensed devices to share TV airwaves.

Four devices designed to figure out which TV channels are in use have been submitted for FCC testing. So far, FCC engineers aren't talking about their conclusions.

Big Brother is watching!

AT&T Staunchly Defends Ad Targeting

Claims it's never
adversely targeted users

As mobile advertising picks up steam, AT&T sets a precedent by issuing a strong defense of tracking users' web-browsing behavior across its network, arguing it can "dramatically improve their experience," reports the New York Times.

AT&T also emphasized the importance of doing so "the right way," meaning using of the "opt-in" method (requiring customers to affirmatively agree to monitoring) as opposed to "opt-out" (tracking anyone who does not explicitly ask to not be tracked). The latter is the method most commonly used by ad targeting companies.

The announcement was part of a response to an inquiry from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to 33 companies concerning ad targeting practices. News that behavioral ad firm NebuAd might buy customer web-surfing data from several internet service providers (ISPs) prompted the inquiry. Major ISPs, including Comcast, Verizon, TimeWarner Cable, and AOL, reassured the Committee that they do not monitor behavior on sites they don't run.

Against the tide, AT&T asserted behavioral targeting can be valuable for customers — provided that companies give consumers control over their information, ensure transparency, and take steps to protect privacy.

Justifying AT&T's argument, a recent Harris Interactive study found consumers are generally fine with behavioral targeting as long as privacy and security safeguards are met.

AT&T has never engaged in overall behavioral targeted advertising, not even in a customer trial, company spokeswoman Dorothy Attwood pointed out. She added that ISPs and ad networks, like Google, glean a deeper understanding of customer behavior by examining their entire online browsing history across all websites as opposed to examining their activity on just one.

Other behavioral targeting activities, like correlating web-surfing data across various platforms (i.e. use on sites broken down by broadband versus wireless users) is possible, she added, but AT&T has so far refrained from doing so, choosing instead to take a more "deliberate approach" to tracking and developing ad-delivery technologies.

The House conducted a hearing in mid-July to determine to what extent the partnership between ISPs and ad firms infringe upon user privacy, putting pressure on both parties to reform their current practices.

Google Phone

Here it comes!

The first Google-powered phone may hit shelves as early as October and as late as the end of the year — likely in time for the holiday season.

Google's buzzed-about Android — not a phone but a smartphone platform that operates on a High Tech Computer Corp (HTC) handset — will be available through wireless carrier T-Mobile.

Like other mobile phone manufacturers, HTC imitated iPhone's modish touchscreen design. It also added a full keyboard for easier typing and texting capabilities, the New York Times reports.

The Android operating system promises to turn phones into personalized devices, running applications and services unique to each user. The system is free to the 30 or so mobile carriers and manufacturers in Google's Open Handset Alliance. Alliance members Sprint and Qualcomm plan to offer Android phones eventually, but T-Mobile is the only one that will debut a unit this year. (AT&T and Verizon Wireless still have not committed to selling any Android phones so far.)

Carriers benefit from smartphones because revenue stream from data plans is higher than simple voice plans. They can also create and sell their own mobile applications, though Android's availability to third-party application developers (like the iPhone) may prove to be too much competition. Over 1,700 entries have been received for the so-called Android Developer Challenge.

The phone's release date depends on when the FCC certifies that the Google software and the phone meet network standards.

Internet radio is changing

Internet radio as we know it is changing as this article tells us:
Buckling under the weight of the Internet radio royalty hike that SoundExchange pushed through last July, Pandora may pull its own plug soon. Despite being one of the most popular Internet radio services, the company still isn't making money, and its founder, Tim Westergren, says it can't last beyond its first payment of the higher royalties.
Related Stories

* Internet radio providers criticize SoundExchange's excessive administrative fees

SoundExchange offered a potential reprieve from the royalty hikes, but that turned out to be a red herring to sneak DRM onto web radio. In the end, SoundExchange was able to initiate a massive (and retroactive) royalty hike on Internet radio stations, imposing per-user fees for each song. Adding insult to injury, the royalties on Internet radio will double for big stations by 2010, to an estimated 2.91 cents per hour per listener—far higher than the 1.6 cents that satellite stations would pay. Radio stations don't pay fees like these yet, but don't worry. SoundExchange is working on fixing that problem.

Pandora, its peers, and many of their collective users have petitioned SoundExchange and politicians multiple times, but nothing has worked. According to the Washington Post, Representative Howard L. Berman (D-CA) is attempting one more last-minute deal between webcasters and SoundExchange, one that could lower the per-song rate set last year, but he isn't optimistic. "If [the negotiations don't] get much more dramatic quickly, I will extricate myself from the process," Berman said.

If Berman is unsuccessful, Pandora will have to pay 70 percent of its projected 2008 revenues of $25 million. "The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved," Pandora's founder Tim Westergren told the Post, "we have to pull the plug because all we're doing is wasting money."

While it's true that SoundExchange has had DRM and radio broadcast flags on its agenda for some time now, representatives of the company have also justified its stance on higher royalties from revenue and profit standpoints. Stations like Pandora, SoundExchange argues, have a higher profit margin and more value because they can broadcast an unlimited number of songs to their users. This dynamic ability stands in contrast to traditional and even satellite radio stations that broadcast a single song on a finite number of channels.

SoundExchange also argues that Internet radio stations could do a lot more to increase their revenue, become profitable, and pay their (arguably high) fees. As much as it pains us to say it, there may be a point here.

There's no doubt that SoundExchange has been strong-arming the Internet radio industry into oblivion. But most Internet radio stations like Pandora offer their services for free, or they offer accounts with more features at incredibly cheap prices. While some stations display ads on their website, Pandora hasn't done itself any favors by offering desktop clients and a wildly popular iPhone application (iTunes link) that rake in millions of users without so much as a single ad. Perhaps, for now, the "just build it and we'll figure out the business model later" approach won't be enough to save this experiment in new media.