Thursday, May 31, 2007


Wow the bug finally bit. I have to offer an apology to Scott Shaffer AKA The Pondering Primate who has been raving to me about QR codes for months in his very well read and very knowledgeable PWC/Mobile Marketing blog and to be honest I always thought it was too complicated too unworkable.

QR codes are a 2 dimensional barcode (stores information not only on the x axis but the y axis as well). They look like a series of random dots in a square shape.

You are able to use the camera on your phone to take a photo of these QR codes which will cause it to enable an event, either text, Vcard, URL etc.

I didn't realise until I went to the Barcamp Mobile NY conference last week that QR codes aren't proprietary eg any reader should in effect be able to read any other encoders output...ahhhh well that makes more sense.

EG I thought a scanbuy reader needed to be downloaded to read the dupont labels eg- whats the point of that my handset would have nothing but readers on it.

So I took my trusty HTC Tytn (otherwise known as the cingular 8525 for you USA based readers) off to downloaded the CHT9000 software (hmmm they must be so interchangeable that it doesn't really matter) copy the .cab file into the phone, install file and power up the software.

After searching the web for QR codes and finding some really cool ones - including business cards, urls, hyperlinks, click-to-call links etc, I came back to the Quickmark site to start encoding my own

Now yes there are a whole heap of other sites that will encode for you however the function I really wanted was my business card and most of the other web based encoders were only doing simple single text or url encoding - I really wanted the Vcard function so now off you go to and snap a shot :)


P.S. In case you are wondering by this point in the post whats the point....experience will teach you otherwise, go download the reader on your phone and come back and comment-interested in your thoughts.

P.P.S. Yes Microsoft are going to make this huge if only they can get it right eventually....their current encoder is crap and implemented incorrectly - stick with Quickmark for the moment.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Peek-A-Boo - Yes Mr CableLabs I see you :)

Now what did you find worth reading on my blog for 51 minutes today hmmmm.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chila is a Killer

If you live outside the USA this post wont interest you-move on.

If you live inside the USA then this innocuous little article is telling you that you are being screwed out of your rights and you didn't even know you had any.

The snivelling toothless mutt that is the FCC, have been once again swindled by the CableLabs consortium (Cablelabs is a consortium of all the USA cable TV providers who are there to look after your 'cough' their rights).

In case you dont understand why you are being screwed let me provide some history.

Some time ago congress passed into law that a cable provider had to provide connectivity without requiring the consumer to purchase/rent a specific set top box.

This gave the consumer freedom of choice as to what set top box they purchased/used or even provide them access without an external box. The 'interface' for the boundary between the consumer owned hardware and the cable company network was a standard called CableCard - which basically looked like a PCMCIA card.

Go and look at the back of your $3000 flat screen TV (I'll wait here while you do it) yep thats the one - you have this capability and you didn't even know you had it.

And here lies the crux of the problem - whilst some smart politician passed this into law (I dont know who/how it got passed) he didn't stick around to follow through (probably died in the sack of a 'filet mignon' induced heart attack with a lobbiest provided asian hooker).

So whilst the FCC who supposedly regulates this standard had to enforce the cable companies to implement it - they never actually made the cable companies provide/market this information to their customers.

Now the official deadline for this implementation was pushed back a few years, and the standards/functionality watered down but guess what - consumers started to find out about cablecard and call their cable companies up demanding their rights.

Cablelabs couldn't handle this so they got together and hatched a plan....lets introduce the next generation of 'cablecard' which will be 'new and improved' (and of course take years to implement-so we can continue to rip off consumers until they catch on they are being screwed once again).

CHILA is the new standard. Basically every TV set manafacturer bringing a set into the USA will be forced to implement this technology (oh and of course that $3,000 cablecard equiped LCD display you just bought - well the cable companies will say that they dont support cablecard any more and only support CHILA - so you'll need to rent a set top box from us at $10 a month).

Once again the cycle starts.

Once again you are being screwed......feels good huh.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Zonbu - net pc?

It was only this week that I was talking on about what I felt was missing in pc operating systems for simplified requirements.
It continues to perplex me why a "set top box - cable delivered - secured web tv computing OS isn't available".
I want a set top box using the TV display with a infra red keyboard that allows people to browse, web mail and store documents in a single central location (eg in the network - not on the local hard drive).
All of the favourites, photos, messages etc are stored off box.
When a screw up or some other catostrophic problem occurs...the user... (your mother) simply hits the big blue button on the top of the box and everything goes back to normal.
You cant tell me that this isn't worth $5-$10 a month per subscriber and a definte business model worth securing?


Then this week I came across it's a fanless box about the size of a paperback book. It has no harddrive but runs it's Linux OS on a flash card - relying on document storage from an online service (rebadged Amazon S3).

20 minute un-boxing demo video available here from Chris if you want to watch that kind of thing

Now the real question is $99 is good BUT..... what else can I hack this system to do instead - can I not use the Zonbu storage (and save the $10 a month storage fees) and use storage on my own server (pretty cool, i could send my mother a unit and have all her files securely backed up here on my windows server so that when she deleted them - no probs easy restore).

Or even better how about hacking it to become an Asterisk server to handle all of my phone traffic, at 1.2ghz it's actually faster than the server I currently use for Asterisk.

Or my favourite hooking up a elcheapo 19" monitor and then mounting them to the wall as a moving photo frame display that cycles through all of my holday snaps.

It will be interesting to see how much 'leakage' Zonbu have where people buy the device but then dont hook up the storage service depriving them of ongoing revenue.

Either way I'll put my hand up for one of them when they are released in 2 months time.

P.S. Hey address for the beta demo unit is on my website :)

Friday, May 25, 2007


I know what I'm spending my 3 day memorial day weekend playing with :)

I know it's quite sad
isn't it...... ;)


Thursday, May 24, 2007

EFF Busts Clear Channel


So a quick bit of background - The EFF are a wonderful organisation that is out there looking after your digital rights as a citizen of the world (even if you haven't heard of them).

They are a non profit (so remember them come tax time) group whose volunteers look into digital issues concerning end users rights.

eg. When the FCC is lobbied by the big business music industry shills and wants to restrict your rights to fair use of CD's it's the EFF that go and lobby congress to make sure you're not getting screwed out of your rights.

The chairman of the group is a guy call Brad Templeton who I've met before and whilst we disagreed on certain issues without a doubt I would always consider the EFF to be one of the most trustworthy groups out there.....and why do they do it (remember these guys are mostly volunteers) - it's because it's made up of very smart people with no respect for money and they just cant be bought off (mainly because they are lousy dressers and they just dont care :).

So recently the EFF have been out there looking at bogus patents (you know like the Amazon page counting one I wrote about recently).

They put together a Top 10 Wanted list

From this list people than submit prior art information that they personally know about which is then submitted to the USPTO to;
1/ ask for re-examination
2/for a patent to be overturned.

So recently the EFF was succesful in having the Clear Channel patent No 6,614,729 which was a bogus patent basically covering the rights of recording a live concert speedily and then selling those cd's at the end of the show - how lame is that?

Clear Channels crimes against the public domain

  • Claiming to own a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert live recordings on digital media.

  • Forcing bands like the Pixies to use ClearChannel's CD-burning systems instead of their own or those of small start-up companies.

  • Threatening to sue anyone who produces post-show live recordings at any of its 100+ venues in the U.S.

Best link of the article :)

Notice of Intent To Cancel Patent Claims


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Chat, Therefore I Am

Two chatbots hook up in a bar one night

It's actually quite interesting to see what they talk about, some of the canned responses to "are you real" are obvious but apart from that quite interesting discussion.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Tim Draper singing The RiskMaster

So I'm sitting watching the end of today's VC competition, been a fantastic day - met a ton of contacts, had some really interesting discussions.

They are just about to announce the winners and Tim Draper is up giving the summary speech on his thoughts and why competitions like this are so important to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and how much things have changed since he did his MBA in the 70's.

He started making comments about how countries are starting to realise that their most precious assets are the entrepreneurs and that the USA needs to wake up and fight to keep more of them in the country as if they don't fight these resources will slip away (a line of thinking that I've been preaching for a while and strongly believe in - if a competing country attracts expats to go work overseas for tax or growth or whatever other reason....this is a big negative for their home country - you either have to fight to keep these highly mobile resources or your will lose them - it's not like oil or coal that will always be there, these resources can leave in a matter of years and be very hard to get back....... - we'll leave the rest of this post for another time).

So anyway I'm thinking wow these comments are really powerful stuff and whip out my still photo camera that records barely adequate but acceptable video and start to record thinking it's just going to be for my own benefit to watch later.......

Watch the video :)

Now before you read any further understand that this man has a net worth of over a Billion dollars (thats 'B' for Billion). He is one of the smartest most connected VC's in the world. He has funded more successful startups than you will ever even hear about and is a super visionary.

Basically the story is that he was at a charity auction where he won the rights for a very famous guitarist to write some music for the lyrics he wrote.

So he wrote a song called "The RiskMaster". I had to edit it down to just the start and finish of the song to get you tube to fit it but hey if he wants to sing it - then go right ahead, if that is what makes him the superstar venture capitalist that he is then I think we all should grow some balls and sing in front of a hall of people.

Anyone that can say he funded Hotmail, Skype and half a dozen other multi billion dollar companies can sing wherever he likes (and the crowd loved it).

I'd say Tim is my new hero but personally I'd prefer to be one of the startups he funds than a VC - and I'm sticking with Thor from the other day for a little bit longer.



I'm sitting in as a guest of the DFJ East Coast Venture Capital Competition today (nice prize - proves things in the USA are really bigger - first place is $250k in seed money.....not bad for a 15 minute pitch).

What I wanted to post about is Mezmeriz which is a new projection display technology. Great story basically one of the scientist geeks working on carbon fibre realised that one of the 'functions' of a product he was working with was able to massive twist from end to end similar to silicon but with far greater scan rates and angles.

Whether it's real or not is to be seen but they have a lab presentation of a 60" display from only a 5" throw.

This means you could have a full 60" rear projection display with only 5" deep and because no need for lenses like the current heavier units.

Now here comes the cool bit....with only minimal power draw you know that video scene you saw where the image from a mobile phone was projected on the wall....these guys have it.

Like I said currently only a working lab proof of concept but I wouldn't be surprised if they are on an ipod or iphone near you within the next 3 years. Check them out

P.S. it was supposed to be a winner take all competition but in the end they couldn’t decide so the VC’s kicked in a separate 100k prize for second place. The 250k prize winner SteriCoat is a coating application on medical devices (catheters etc ) to prevent infection that didn’t use drug release like the current ones but was a mechanical property of the coating.

The Advertising Breakup

The Break Up
Uploaded by bringtheloveback

This is a marketing campaign by Microsoft i just came across and I love it.

I haven't delved into specifically what MS are pushing but I think the video stands on it's own as an amazing warning message to advertisers.

I've posted other times in this blog about many alternatives (search KFC or GE in the post search bar above to find them) but I think this video sums up.......if you stick with the old then you will be left behind.


Sunday, May 20, 2007


One of the best things about living in New York or more and more "Silicon Alley" is the amount of really cool technology conferences that are on.

On Saturday i got to share some time with about 100 or so amazing people at
So here's my take - mobile application development is really moving along, there were some things coming out of the NYU ITP class that made my head spin (even if I'm not sure they grasped all the commercial aspects of what they were working on), almost makes me want to go and enroll in a few classes there.
Was also surprised by Nokia's attitude to embedded web servers in the handsets themselves (specifically S60's), especially that exposed API's for all hardware and built in applications address book-numbers dialed etc) As for why having a web server on your handset is so cool I'm going to skip for this post as it's a full post on it's own.
So here is the issue as I see it;
Everything sucks and is doomed for commercial failure....for the moment.
The issue at the moment is all these applications are handset specific OR carrier specific, talk about niche markets - not only are you targetting the 'bleeding edge' users (not necessarily but more about that another time) but you are tageting this small fraction of users that 'happen' to be using the brand (and sometimes model - eg Nokia's webserver application only works on the Series 3 version of the S60) so you build the worlds coolest mobile application that can only be used by 3% of users who class themselves as bleeding edge AND you only get to build it on the 10% of them who are using the model of handset your application is designed for.
The same issue with Physical World Hyperlink applications...get a freaking standard and stick to it - there is no point if I have one application for a marketing campaign, then another for my amazon upc app, then another for my subway "e-money" app.
Having said all that.... It's still very cool. - this situation will change in the blink of an eye but for the moment it's time to watch and learn without necessarily giving up your day job.
Anyway thats my thoughts - always interested in people challenging my take.

P.S. If you are interesting in running a webserver on your handset apparently the apache crew have a mobile server under the code "racoon" that is gaining some good traction.

London CCTV

I was stunned with the amount of obvious CCTV cameras I could see when in London last week. I dont have any deep and meaningful comments one way or the other but walking around it was a very weird feeling.


Friday, May 18, 2007

What have you done today thats so important?

I use as my RSS reader (more about this another post) and one of the feeds I have just for interest sake more than anything else is the Wired "on this day" feed.

Check this link out.

Wow how freaking cool is this? it's a reed boat and he crossed the entire Atlantic ocean with it (I wont even leave my apartment some times when it's raining).

It makes me feel so small sometimes when i compare what i've done with my life compared to this but inspires me at the same time. Thor Heyerdahl is my new hero.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Off to London for a week

I'm probably not going to have time to blog for the rest of the week as I'm in London until next Monday.

First note - it's weird how much some parts of London are like Australia. On the limo ride in I could have been in Eastwood or North Ryde for most of the trip.

Second note - it's weird how many UK companies have similar branding to Australian companies, the colour selection for Sainsbury's and Coles is almost identical.

Third note - how the hell does a bug end up dead between the vacuum sealed plane windows of a 737?

BTW Is it just more or do more people feel it's uneasonable that in this day and age that planes should be quieter inside than they are, i mean it's ridiculous the noise level you have to put up with for hours on end - that and when are we going to have power outlets in all seats? laptop batteries only last so long which i wouldn't mind but with only 8 channels on the tv's and nothing worth watching it was a pain when the divx movie on the laptop didn't make it to the end.

I wouldn't bitch so much but on comes the captain to say welcome aboard AA 737 one of the most newest planes in the fleet....really i wouldn't have noticed with your crappy paint job and your lousy food......oh and it's raining in London this morning :(


Friday, May 04, 2007

Microsoft acquiring Yahoo

"Stupid" and thats all I've to say on the matter.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I'm flat out today so I don't have time for analysis but three very separate and distinct things caught my eye while I was drinking my coffee first thing this morning and scanning the my rss reader downloads.
There is open revolt on the Web. Sophisticated Internet users have banded together over the last two days to publish and widely distribute a secret code used by the technology and movie industries to prevent piracy of high-definition movies.
The broader distribution of the code may not pose a serious threat to the studios, because it requires some technical expertise and specialized software to use it to defeat the copy protection on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. But its relentless spread has already become a lesson in mob power on the Internet and the futility of censorship in the digital world.
Obama Camp Takes Control of MySpace Page
Is MySpace always mine or can it belong to someone else? At the cost of losing 160,000 friends, Democrat Barack Obama presidential campaign has taken over control of the MySpace page listed under his name on the popular social networking site.

For the past two and a half years, the page has been run by an Obama supporter from Los Angeles named Joe Anthony. At first, that arrangement was fine with the Obama team, which worked with Anthony on the content and even had the password to make changes themselves.

MySpace reluctantly stepped in to settle the dispute and decided that Obama should have the rights to control as of Monday night, while Anthony had the right to take the contact information for all the friends who signed up while he was in control. That includes the right to tell them exactly how he feels about the Obama campaign.

Anthony referred The Associated Press to his MySpace blog, where he has written that he is heartbroken that the Obama campaign was "bullying" him out of the page he built. He said the candidate has lost his vote.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is trying to rebuild his friends network from scratch and was up to more than 17,000 by midday Wednesday. "We support the MySpace community, and look forward to building our relationship," said campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
Pandora to block international listeners from May 3rd.
"Dear Pandora listener,
Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora's streaming service for most countries outside of the U.S.
It is difficult to convey just how disappointing this is for us. Our vision remains to eventually make Pandora a truly global service, but for the time being, we can no longer continue as we have been. As a small company, the best chance we have of realizing our dream of Pandora all around the world is to grow as the licensing landscape allows.

I know you guys are smart enough to draw the conclusions that something has shifted in the tide of control.

As I've advised content consulting projects I've worked on in the past, you can take advantage of this or you can try and control it and fail.

The tools for your consumers to abuse you are too widely spread and too easily available to pretend you can control the hydra serpent that is your customers.

Accept it and learn from it but evolve or die. The choice is yours.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ludicrous Amazon Patent

Someone needs to be fired over this - I cannot believe this got passed.

Amazon Patents Counting Book Pages To Figure Out Unnumbered Page Numbers

"The USPTO has issued Amazon a brand spanking new patent for Determining Page Numbers of Page Images, a process which the e-tailer explains involves 'extracting all numbers that are exactly one different than a number found on an adjacent page'." Basically, they've figured out a way to look at pages in a book and see if some of the pages don't have numbers, and then use basic addition and subtraction to figure out what the actual number of those pages are.

Stuff like this drives me crazy, I cant believe people in the USPTO aren't being marched out the door when stuff like this is breaking in the news.

The only thing that did make me smile in the comments was;

can you patent math?
by Mike on May 1st, 2007 @ 4:10pm
So, by looking at a book with a certain number of pages in it, the use a process to find out that the book actually has 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0: 25 pages in it?

Well are you geeky enough to work that one out? email me to let me know if you got it.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Microsoft Photosynth

Whoa were the hell did this come from????

You have to check out this new application from Microsoft called PhotoSynth.

This thing so rocks. Can you believe how I was excited about Google MyMaps last week....can you imagine that entire walk put together by visually matrixing not only my photos but any other photos Photosynth is able to sift from the internet and geolocate into position.

If you have the video card and the bandwidth to suit check out the demo here there is no indication as to the pre-processing required to put these collections together but as a proof of concept on how photos from disaparate sources can be mapped together it's powerfull stuff just as a POC.

I cant wait to see this come out of Microsoft search as a working and real time application spidering all geo photos together in virtual walk throughs. I mean seriously are the guys at Microsoft search on amphetamines or something this thing is seriously cool and makes google look like they are asleep at the wheel.

There's 3 videos to download (making of, walk through and tour) available here but they are all pretty lengthy at 27mb but if you got this far into the post and you're still interested then it's worth the download.

Keep up the great work guys.