29 Aug

Microsoft Charges for IM Interoperability


"Cerulean Studios, maker of the Trillian IM client, is at the top of Microsoft’s hit list. Trillian enables users to consolidate multiple IM accounts in one client and is available in a free version, as well as a $25 Pro version that offers additional features. Trillian has been downloaded more than 10 million times, according to Cerulean Studios. "Running an [IM] network is expensive," says Lisa Gurry, group product manager for MSN at Microsoft. "We can’t sustain multiple other-people’s businesses, particularly if they charge for certain versions of their software. We’re introducing licensing processes for third parties like Trillian.""

A few years ago, MSN tried for months to interop with AIM in order to piggyback their user base and let people chat with each other. That was of course self-serving lip service to interop (MS even worked with Yahoo to connect their two services, while they were making noises about how AOL was playing unfair). Now they try to exhort money out of Trillian. It’s funny to hear MSN talk about how expensive it is to run an IM network, considering its awful availability, by far the lowest in the industry (that poor track record works wonders to taint the .Net brand by the way).
After all those years MSN still lacks clear leadership and a real focus on software. Feels like MS Money with more resources. That’s probably because the interaction with the rest of the company is minimal at best. Dump that piece of crud to Barry Diller and focus on growing the enterprise market, that might do some good for the stock.

25 Aug

[Guardian] Scientists discover secret that keeps French slim: eat less of everything

"Scientists have another solution for the notorious "French paradox" – the riddle of how a nation of alcohol-quaffing, croissant-munching gourmands stays healthy and slim, while a disproportionate number of health-obsessed Americans are obese and at cardiovascular risk.
The answer, after methodical study of brasseries, eateries, pizza parlours, Chinese restaurants and Hard Rock cafes in both countries, is simple: the French eat less of everything. And they eat less because they are served smaller portions. The French paradox has baffled European and US scientists for more than a decade."
Baffled scientists for more than a decade? Come on. The first time I went to the US 14 years ago, I was baffled that what we call a bucket over here in Europe passed for a glass in Los Angeles. If you drink Coke by the liter and have 6 meals a day (Americans really keep eating all the time) you’re going to get fat, OK? So after all we French have some common sense lessons to provide to the supposedly more pragmatic Americans. Or so I would wish, because obesity is a growing concern in France and elsewhere in Europe (the Portuguese for instance are increasingly fat too). Blame it on munching junk food all day long and not getting exercise to burn those calories.
Every food & beverage marketer knows that consumption of their product is elastic. That’s why you often see promotions that gets you increased quantity for the same price. These people are fighting for share of stomach, and proceed to expand your stomach at the same time. You’ll end up drinking more orange juice or cereals or whatever else in the same amount of time, as the product is perishable, so you’re either going to eat it or throw it away, and if you have more available, you’re probably going to eat it.

24 Aug

Ideo Is in the Cross-pollination Business

Darwin: Are You Looking in All the Wrong Places?

"IDEO has recently recognized the full potential of its network position. By moving among so many small worlds, it has acquired more than just a lot of good objects and ideas. IDEO has also acquired links to a range of vendors, suppliers and manufacturers that are particularly innovative or easy to work with, to research scientists with deep knowledge of emerging materials, to product companies that are central to particular markets. IDEO has realized it is not just in the business of combining existing objects and ideas in novel ways, but also in the business of building communities around those recombinant innovations."

24 Aug

Organizing & blogging media files

John Robb:

"Adobe’s Photoshop Picture Album has many of the great features of Apple’s iphoto plus an innovative timeline/calendar-based organizational system […] If connected to a personal publishing system (weblog tool), it would make building high quality online picture albums a breeze (so much easier than it could ever be through a Web browser). It would be interesting to see how much of this tool’s functionality (sort, search, etc.) could be published with a click of a button to an interactive CMS-driven weblog. […]
Also, I see a trend here. People are typically going to publish a main text-driven weblog, but in parallel they are likely to publish weblogs for pictures and video (the highlights of the parallel media weblogs will be published to the main weblog)."

23 Aug

There’s More than Email to Groupware

Tim Bray lists a selection of email clients for you in case you want to be teleported seven years ago (cool, I’ll long then short the bubble and will become a gazillionaire!), when you needed separate applications to handle tasks that are obviously related to each other. Outlook is a market leader because it’s leaps and bounds more usable and feature-rich than the Notes client, its only real competitor. I wonder how software such as Eudora stacks up to manage contacts, tasks, surveys, custom forms, or shared calendaring. And how do you integrate RSS, spam filtering, or instant messaging? (Has anyone ever heard of a Eudora ISV?) How do you custom-code mini-portals, integrate workflow, or build reporting applications on top of all that collaborative data?

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22 Aug

Cheap, effective hosted bug tracking software?

Before my Excel spreadsheet bursts at the hinges, I’d like to start using an online system to keep track of bugs and feature requests. I’ve been doing some research and got helpful advice from Tim Appnel. So far, I’m interested in FogBUGZ, Bugzilla and JIRA, though there are of course plenty other possibilities. I want something cheap, easy to setup and manage, with a great UI and simple workflow. We’ll have about 5-10 named users, and I don’t expect more than a couple hundreds entries within the next few months (but I’m just guestimating here).

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20 Aug

Microsoft to lock down MSN Messenger network


"Users have to upgrade to the latest versions of MSN or Windows Messenger by Oct. 15 or they will no longer be able to log on, Microsoft spokesman Sean Sundwall said. […] Besides those older Messenger clients, the move also affects IM software such as Trillian, Imici and Odigo that allow users to consolidate multiple IM accounts in one client, Sundwall said.
"It is our expectation that those who use our service with unlicensed or unauthorized third-party clients will likely not be able to log on after Oct. 15," Sundwall said. "We would encourage those third parties to contact us to work out agreements by which they can continue to have their customers access our network." Sundwall would not comment on what type of agreement Microsoft would want with third-party IM software providers. "We are very interested in interoperating with all third parties, there just needs to be a formal agreement," he said."

19 Aug

News Aggregators Aren’t Tied to the Browser

Brent Simmons: False dichotomy

"The thing to remember is that the distinction between aggregator types isn’t between mail-reader style and weblog-style, it’s between GUI apps and browser-based apps."

Brent is trying to bring his former boss to his senses. Good luck. I’ve been using Radio as an aggregator since it included that feature, but after a couple of months with Newsgator, I’d never go back. Meanwhile, Dave Winer is thinking users are stupid and will fall for his blatant misrepresentation of facts, that I’ll address quickly:

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