29 Oct

Products First, Then Channels (One Can Dream)

Peter Davidson: A Movie Marketing Experiment:

"Movie producers need to understand that they are telling a story across multiple formats and distribution channels. The real money is not in the theatrical release but in the DVD sales, Toys, Video games and the set up for future stories. The focus will shift from theatrical release as the premiere event to the theatrical release as a skillful marketing event for the additional formats channels and formats for the same story. The theatrical release will be tailored and designed to promote the purchase (or download) of the DVD and or the video game."

That, and I think it’s a strong underlying trend that customers expect more and more control for their money rather than a take-it-or-leave-it attitude from companies, especially as far as discretionary spending is concerned.

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29 Oct

Testing Big Software Projects Not for Wimps

Scott Guthrie (a Microsoft product unit manager on web platform and tools who got ASP.NET started): Testing ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Web Developer:

"[W]e need to deliver [ot] on the same date on three radically different processor architectures (x86, IA-64, and x64 processor architectures), on 4 different major OS variations (Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Longhorn), support design-time scenarios with 7 different Visual Studio SKUs, and be localized into 34+ languages. […]
My team will have ~105,000 test cases and ~505,000 functional test scenarios covered when we ship Whidbey. […] My team currently has 4 labs where we keep approximately 1,200 machines."

In semi-related news, I see more people waking up to the fact Google might turn into a significant Microsoft ISV.
11/22/04 update: Google Deskbar Plug-in .NET Development Kit.

28 Oct

Relaunching the BizNetTravel Blog

This week I’ve been taking over the BizNetTravel.com blog from my buddies Rick Bruner and Steve Hall who are too busy with respectively a new job and posting like crazy at AdRants. I might take it into a slightly different direction, though I don’t know yet what that is. It’s pretty transparent that the blog’s goal is to attract customers for my client Andras Revesz, since it’s integrated directly within his site (Rick’s idea, which I believe is the proper execution). There’s another blog just for special travel deals which is more challenging to make interesting to read.
In both cases if the content doesn’t generate leads and sales it’s ultimately failing at its job, but people are not going to go there to read ads either. It might be tempting to focus on travel tips and practical advice rather than news and offbeat links, but on the other hand there are only so many tips you can provide and this ain’t very exciting anyway. Please read us there for a while and tell me how we’re doing.

26 Oct

Macromedia FlashPaper Lighter Alternative to Acrobat?

Dave McClure:

"Every time i load up Acrobat Reader to view a PDF file, i might as well go get a cup of coffee — it’s a complete dog, and not at all appropriate for viewing lightweight docs over the web. Then along comes Macromedia FlashPaper, and I’m amazed this product hasn’t already obliterated the portable document market."

Interesting. I second Dave’s comment on Acrobat’s sluggishness, this is really aggravating. FlashPaper has an API and isn’t even new.
04/18/05 update: Adobe to Acquire Macromedia.

26 Oct

Plazes releases API

Felix Petersen:

"To use the API, please drop us a short mail and we will provide you with a developer key and the documentation. Note, that Plazes APIs are for non-commercial use only."

What’s the point of using a web API if you can’t make money with it? Isn’t this the best way to guarantee you’re not going to have much traction? I don’t get it. There’s more to web application integration than toying with gizmos in the margin of your blog.

21 Oct

Content networks deliver on-demand apps


"Akamai Technologies this week plans to introduce four J2EE-based Web applications that enterprises can deploy quickly without purchasing any hardware or fixed assets. Meanwhile, Speedera Networks next week will launch its FlexComputing service for distributed application hosting and delivery. […]
The J2EE-based applications include Lucene, an open source site search application that allows the processing of all searches to take place on Akamai’s own network. […] The other applications launched this week are User Prioritization, which prioritizes access to back-end applications for site visitors making a purchase; Online Registration, which ensures the collection of registration data; and Contest, which allows site promotions to be run entirely on Akamai’s network."

I’m interested in hearing about actual deployments. This sounds expensive and complex.

15 Oct

Some Hip-Hop Is Still Hip (Knowing You Don’t Know Much)

The overwhelming commercialization of hip-hop shouldn’t hide the gems from sight, just like a famous Kenny G doesn’t mean jazz is dying. There’s value in popular mediocrity though: you can quickly tell whether someone knows anything about the genre they profess to love (my readers who praise Eminem will recognize themselves and silently shame themselves into acquiring some taste).
This week I listened to Cee-Lo‘s first album and to a Sixtoo compilation released earlier this year. Both are well worth the attention, the second is significantly darker than the first (not unlike a DJ Shadow for instance – not that’s there’s anything wrong with that in my book!). What else? Dizzee Rascal’s second record was good so there’s substance behind the hype while De La Soul’s latest was underwhelming. This tells me one thing, I have to discover other new names who got started in the last 5 years or so. Seems there’s a whole wave of quality indie hip-hop I’m only peripherally aware of.
Being an ecclectic music lover (the soundtrack for this post is Limehouse Blues by Grappelli and Kessel) is a blessing but it also gives you the true measure of your ignorance. It’s a long road before you’re anything but a dabbler in any genre. My mp3 collection is currently at about 61,000 tracks but if I look at the jazz slice within it which accounts for about 21% of the total, well that’s only 1,400 albums or so. Jazz alone is so big that this is but a drop in the sea. Ok, probably a good sample because I started from best-of lists of supposedly essential records and I took it from there in several directions (be bop, fusion of various strands, soft jazz, there are many ways to dice jazz). To put things in perspective, there were 8,000 new jazz CDs published last year alone.
And of course there’s not just jazz, or just music, or just art, to learn and enjoy and create. The idea that we humans have to die only a little less ignorant than at birth is revolting and it’s our destiny to do something about it.

10 Oct

Coming soon: Laszlo without Presentation Server

David Tempkin:

With Laszlo’s new business model built on top of an open-source platform, we are now in a position to make the presentation server an optional component of a Laszlo deployment. Sometime over the next few months, we’ll release a build that allows you to compile LZX files on a developer’s machine, and post the resulting SWF to a Web server. The SWF in the browser will communicate with XML and media sources directly, with no intervening presentation (proxy) server.
We’re expecting that serverless deployment, coupled with open source, will go a long way toward making it easier to deploy rich Internet applications, particularly at high scale.

Temkin also lists limitations of the Flash Player 5.0 as historical reasons that made a presentation server necessary in the first place. Removing this server dependency in production environments should not only help Lazslo on the high end, but it could also contribute to making RIAs more accessible to small businesses. I don’t believe in a web where big companies would offer snappy, super-interactive online applications while moms-and-pops would be stuck in FrontPage land. Think about "application syndication," a phrase that has been used for at least six years but that I still don’t see it happening much (public examples welcome, if you know any). The first generation players collapsed under their own weight and hopefully easier deployment will help the market get there.

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