Archive for April, 2010

Some rooms could do with a little light, how about a view of the Golden Gate Bridge using a couple of plasmas. But this is not just an image or video playing. As the viewer moves position relative to the plasmas, the view changes also, giving the user a sense that the view is actually real. Nice I like it.

This technology comes from a company called Rational Craft, and the software used is Winscape :

Check out the demo below :

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Not so long ago I put up a post about a music website that is powered through recommendation called MFlow. Reflecting on what I am doing here is recommending a website to anyone that maybe interested. Some days I also find people recommending to me what sites they use and the word of mouth concept generally works well.

So it’s interesting to come across a music website whose priority it is to act as a hub for all quality music websites and the users that love them.

Dreamingstreaming.info is the site and is currently in a beta phase. They aim to offer users links to the sites who only provide high quality levels of sound. With the numerous ways of finding and playing music currently on the web Dreamstreaming will definitely help those who are embarking on sorting out their music collections and/or discovering these useful links.

Again it’s hard to tell how quickly or how successfully this site can become a brand name. That will be down to the users and marketing power combined. I think this is definitely a good idea because I cannot remember the last time someone recommended to me such a hub of a music and sound centered site.

Content Courtesy of DreamingStreaming :

DreamStreaming aims to become the most respected internet music information website in the world, for all types of streaming, download and on-demand music sources offering a high quality of service and / or music content through the internet.

Find out more about Dreamingstreaming at :

http://www.dreamstreaming.info/

The other day over the Easter break my five year old nephew asked me a straight forward technology based question, he said “Uncle, can you fast forward the adverts on the television because I hate adverts, they are so boring?” When I got in front of the television, I realised he was watching live TV, and explained to him that generally you can only fast forward adverts if you are watching a recorded program, or if you have paused live TV at some point earlier and you are simply catching up to the point of live transmission. Obviously, I had to use other words and maybe showed some examples of how this would work, but I thought wow, do the next gens really hate adverts? Not really, I feel that that the next gens really don’t react to passive media because their world from day dot is all about interactivity. Therefore until the Internet has converged with the TV, (and we really are not too far away from that) then television adverts cannot create conversions like true digital advertising currently does.

During my experience of using the Internet, I realised a long time ago that adverts as a minimum need to be interactive. If I as a consumer have any interest in a company’s product or service, then what I need more than anything is an emotional interactive experience. To date, I have only come across a small number of these styles of adverts. The first was a banner advert for Gran Turismo 4. It was not just a simple banner advert, it was an invitation to interact with a brand that I love. The advert asked me to play a few videos, and position the in built camera within the video to a point that would capture, what I thought would be a great photograph. The images were then submitted into a competition. I was on that advert for 2 hours, yes that’s right, 2 hours. That is the power of digital advertising, yet still thousands of companies spend thousands of pounds on boring click through adverts.

Now Apple has announced that it is going to allow developers to create adverts that are exactly this type in nature. So when you see an advert, you know that you are not just going to click through to a boring brochure based website, but you can look forward to a fully interactive emotional experience.

Apple told the world about apps, even though Windows Mobile users were already using apps. Now Apple is going to tell the world about creating interactive adverts even though it’s nothing new. But they are going to do it on the mobile, so how long is it going to take the rest of the digital media to catch up?

Watch a demo of iAd below courtesy of lightstab :

New mobile phones tend to evolve towards becoming smarter and smarter, with better technology and a wider range of features. But earlier this week Microsoft who have teamed up with the Japanese manufacturer Sharp have decided to try a slightly different tactic. They have introduced two new mobile phones into the marketplace branded Kin One and Kin Two that have power but less features.

The angle of course is social media, because the Next Gens ( as described by Tamara Erickson in What Next Gen X ) or the younger generation who seem to be naturally socially driven. The target audience in mind is the 16-25 year olds, who spend most of their time, sharing photos, videos, location based content and other files with their friends.

The network carriers that will be introducing these phones to the marketplace later this year are Verizon Wireless in the US and Vodafone in Europe.

But how much they will cost is still a major question, since the target are clearly not the cash rich generation. Take a look at the review posted by Engadget, and you can see that the user interface is more Minority Report than Apple’s clean white approach. I admit I do like the way it looks, and have always been a fan of drag and drop features. Microsoft have also gone a step further by integrating the content simultaneously to a website, which they want users to regard as a bottomless pit for file storage, called Kin Studio, which also is a very nice touch.

Looking forward to seeing more about this, and already thinking that owning one phone is clearly not enough. Who said that this phone is for the younger generation needs to think again, because it’s really aimed at anyone who likes to create and share content.

Read the Engadget review at :

http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/14/microsoft-kin-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know/

Twitter has now been around a few years and is utilised by Big Brands, SME’s and individuals as a very useful communication channel. You can read more about using Twitter and catch up on some case studies at :

http://business.twitter.com/twitter101

New Twitter advertising models are emerging, allowing businesses to promote their tweets above others in order to get seen by users searching for relevant information. Twitter itself has released what they call ‘Promoted Tweets’. As you can see from the image below, after doing a search for ‘Starbucks’, their tweet is shown above the others. It can be re-tweeted like any other tweet and is paid for on a cost per 1000 basis. But do I want to see these above real time natural tweets?

Not really sure yet because although the service has just been unveiled, Twitter are taking the roll out slowly in order to find out if what they have implemented is of any value, so it’s a bit if a beta test! They will looking at feedback from people and businesses to see how successful these ‘promoted tweets’ are. Personally I would prefer all paid for advertising be place in a separate part of the page, but then again, that’s just me.

In the meantime, a new site, which is not linked to Twitter, but is also promoting another Twitter Advertising model was launched yesterday. It is called Tweetup, created by Bill Gross and Idealab. Tweetup is attempting to create a ‘Google Ad-Words’ for Twitter.

With the two models in place, what’s going to happen? There are still many people who have not yet got to grips with what Twitter can offer them today …yet the ad models are now here for those wanting to get their messages above the rest. This is going to be a very interesting battle.

Btw, since creating the above image half an hour ago, there have now been 845 more tweets related to the search query ‘Starbucks’. Is this the hype of the new ads or is this just the way it is? Twitter simply is amazing …make that 1105 wow.

Find out more about Tweetup at :

http://www.tweetup.com/about

10 years ago, marketing your website required the use of simply adding a few popular key words. This was great for bringing in traffic but the conversion rates were well off the mark.

As the dot com bubble burst, website owners demanded much more justification for their marketing budgets and this gave rise to the world of SEO. Parallel to this was the rise of Google who provided a platform for SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) to work well, and although PPC(Pay Per Click) works perfectly fine in the short term, SEO provides long term relevant traffic and growth.

But what else can you do to bring in relevant traffic to your site? Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of the Hubspot have written a book called Inbound Marketing which not only covers PPC and SEO, but also explains how the use of Social Media and Blogs is also now just as important. Although not the first book about Inbound Marketing, it presents today’s online marketing strategies in a simple and digestible format, whether you are a techie or not.

If you are serious about marketing on the web, and willing to put the time and effort into utilising some or all of the ideas in this book, then you will begin to see what it takes for websites need to stay on top and continue to bring in relevant traffic.

With nearly 2 billion people across the world surfing the net, now more than ever is the time to start planning where you want your site to be for the next 5-10 years, and Inbound Marketing is what you need to start investigating.

Find out more about the concept of Inbound Marketing on this post on the Hubspot Blog at :

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/4416/Inbound-Marketing-the-Next-Phase-of-Marketing-on-the-Web.aspx

Get the book on Amazon at :

In the US :

www.inboundmarketingbook.com

In the UK :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inbound-Marketing-Found-Google-Social/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271112028&sr=8-1

Sony is releasing it’s new Walkman to the masses this week in the UK – the NWZ-A845. Well, what’s so good about this Walkman?

To begin with this Walkman is only 7.2mm thin, it has an OLED screen for stunning visuals,  the device can also play BBC iPlayer downloads, syncs with iTunes, has an audio play time of around 29 hours, comes with noise-cancelling headphones and weighs in at around 62g. So all in all a very nice alternative to the Apple’s Nano iPod.

Retail price in the UK is around £140, looks like Sony have got a great little product.

Watch one of the few video reviews I found below, courtesy of www.tracyandmatt.co.uk :

Read their current review at :

http://www.tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/sony-nwz-a845-walkman-unboxing-video

Interested in helping scientists to spot explosions on the Sun and tracking them as they travel towards Earth? Then the Solar Storm Watch could be for you, and in fact anyone can be a solar storm watcher thanks to the Internet.

Brought to you by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, The Science & Technology Facilities Council and Zooniverse, the Solar Storm Watch is using the technique of crowd sourcing to help them in a number of different ways, from data processing to spotting comets.

At the website you can find profiles of the scientists involved, videos about why crowd sourcing is required, a forum to discuss your questions and opinions, teachers resources, the all important mission briefing and more.

Content courtesy of The Solar Storm Watch :

Mission briefing

You don’t have to be a science expert to be a brilliant solar stormwatcher. But if you’d like to know more about what you’re looking at, then explore our beautiful and interactive zoomable diagrams to find out about the Sun and the STEREO spacecraft monitoring it. And check out our scientists’ profiles too.

Find out more about the Solar Storm Watch at :

http://solarstormwatch.com/

Content courtesy of Zooniverse.

The Zooniverse is home to the Internet’s largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects.

With nearly 60million classifications, Zooniverse is giving a prize to the person who discovers the 60th Millionth classification. What are you waiting for?

Find out more about Zooniverse at :

http://zooniverse.org/home


Blur is a game created by Bizarre Creations the people behind the Project Gotham series and Activision the pure play online and console game publisher. Due for release in May later this year, I played a demo version of the game and noticed was a social twist has been placed within the game. Although other games do have a social element, like for example being able to buy and sell cars on Forza, or set up private races in most racing games etc, but Blur is pushing the social angle a little further by allowing gamers to directly Tweet their progress using their Twitter account details.

Adding the element of a four way split screen, this game sounds like hours of fun for you and your friends.

Right now the developers are looking for feedback from gamers who have tried the demo in order to put the finishing touches to the final release.

Check out the trailer below :

Find out more about Blur at :

http://www.blurgame.com/

Find out more about Bizarre Creations at :

http://www.bizarrecreations.com/

Focusing on fashion, consumers will soon be able to fund designers directly through a website called FashionStake in return for credits on clothes. This model offers an alternative to purchasing from retailers and the communication channels of this model allows for the unique opportunity of supporting the creative process.

Not sure if it will have the same effect as the music industry had with peer-to-peer as suggested by Reuters below, but ‘crowd funding’ models are probably here to stay, and will probably sit alongside existing retail channels. If the model exceeds expectations, then there is no reason why high street retailers cannot begin to try similar models.

Nike has been offering personal sports shoes for some time now through Nike ID. So although this may not be as personal as what FashionStake are offering, but by simply giving consumers the chance to contribute is definitely a way forward.

Content Courtesy of Reuters :

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) – An Internet start-up called Fashion Stake launching in coming weeks aims to shake up the fashion industry, just as peer-to-peer file sharing changed the music industry.

Fashion Stake will allow customers to directly fund fashion designers by browsing on-line collections and buying a stake in a collection in return for credits to buy clothes. Patrons can also share ideas with designers and vote on collections.

Read the full article at :

http://smallbusiness.uk.reuters.com/2010/04/06/new-website-brings-crowd-sourcing-to-fashion/

Find out more about FashionStake at :

http://www.fashionstake.com/

Do you need cash for a personal project without sacrificing any ownership of your idea, then Kickstarter may be for you. Kickstarter is a New York based website that allows its users to create a project with a set cash objective and deadline. Other users are then open to making contributions towards the project, however contributions are not made until the total cash objective has been met. For providing this service Kickstarter takes a 5% commission.

US based users are the only ones currently allowed to create projects, but users all over the world can make contributions right now. There are plans to roll out the full service to other countries in the future.

This is not only a simple and effective idea, it is also carries a solid E-commerce model to boot.

Find out more about Kickstarter at :

http://www.kickstarter.com/

If you like Kickstarter, you may also be interested in :

http://www.indiegogo.com

With the rise of 3D TV during this year Sony is looking to push forwards on all technological fronts. Recently re-styling their Japanese retail store in line with Apple’s clean cut style, they are also looking to launch an online content service that will no doubt be available across their TV’s, Consoles and the Web.

Sony don’t tend to innovate like they used too, and it looks like Apple have been holding that title for the last decade. But with a vast number of loyal customers, a distinct design style of its own and a brand as big as Coca Cola, Sony will not have to try to hard to win new customers.

Content Courtesy of The New York Times :

Sony is working with Google and Intel on Google TV, a platform for a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes that will make it easier to browse the Web on TV screens. The first devices featuring the technology are expected to be on sale this summer.

Read the full article at :

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/technology/29sony.html

See also :

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/technology/18webtv.htm

Understanding the habits of your users is an on-going process. Learning about the pages visited, time spent on those pages, new vs returning visiting numbers, keywords, geographic locations etc can help to improve the value provided by your website. If you want the exact numbers and science then you would probably need to spend money developing or purchasing a bespoke piece of code. There are vendors out there also that provide this type of software, but, at a cost.

Google has provided software for this purpose for a number of years now, and because it’s free, it has helped many people get an idea of what their visitors maybe doing. If your running a Fan Page on Facebook and you like Google Analytics, there has been a JavaScript issue that has been stopping you from using the Google Code on your Fan Pages.

Now a company in London, UK,  called Webdigi, has provided some help. For information on how to set up Google Analytics on your Fan Page go to :

http://www.webdigi.co.uk/blog/2010/google-analytics-for-facebook-fan-pages/

Inspiration courtesy of the Social Media Examiner at :

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-add-google-analytics-to-your-facebook-fan-page/

When I first heard about the iPhone, I thought cool, this should do the job. But then it came out I just wasn’t feeling it. Even today after 3 generations of iPhone a couple of sore points still stick out, such as, not being able to run more than one application, and not being able to carry a spare battery.

With the release of the iPad tomorrow (Correction : Saturday 3rd April 2010) in the United States to the public and Europe later this April, is this product going to be a white elephant, or is it going to tell other manufacturers what consumers really want? Let me explain further, first with some of the limitations. No USB ports, no on-board camera, no Adobe Flash and a little on the heavy side. So it certainly doesn’t sound like much of a communication tool.

But if you ignore these limitations, and look at the iPad from a simple point of view then maybe a large touch screen that is not as heavy as a laptop may have its uses around the house. So by introducing this new product into our lives, Apple will be the guinea pig for other manufacturers who will be watching very closely as to the feedback from consumers around the world. To the point, is there a need for another device in the house?

For the same money consumers could purchase a net book from a range of manufacturers, which have all the features missing from the iPad, but if you feel like you need a large touch screen then maybe the iPad is for you. Apple will no doubt be introducing improved versions of the iPad over the coming years, like maybe they will add the 3D motion censored camera, but like the first iPhone…I’m just not feeling it yet.

Find out more about the iPad at :

Keynote Speech :

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/specialevent0110/

Release Information :

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/03/05ipad.html

USA Site :

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_ipad/family/ipad?mco=OTY2ODA0NQ

Read a review on the iPad, courtesy of Engadget at :

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/27/apple-ipad-first-hands-on/