Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boopsie Gives Mobile Search a Speed Boost

Mobile search, despite the presence of giants such as Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO), Microsoft (MSFT) and AOL (TWX), is wide open. Any startup has as good a chance as any of the the big boys, just as long as they have cutting-edge technology and enough business acumen to capitalize on it. One such startup that is getting a lot of buzz is Boopsie -– yes, you read that right — Boopsie.

The company quietly launched at the recent Mobile 2.0 conference, but went largely unnoticed. And that's a shame, for I ended up downloading Boopsie's mobile search application to my Nokia N95, and I was impressed. The app supports all platforms, including the iPhone. After talking to the company — I am typing this while sitting in the airport in Las Vegas, waiting to get home — I like their approach. (It is not clear where the company is based, and their website offers no information.) They've basically created channels of content that might be useful.

The search query on Boopsie gets rolling with a "smart prefix" — which means that instead of typing out the whole word, you only need to type the word's first few letters. Start typing "Caltrain," for example, and you get a list of options to choose from, including the Caltrain schedule. I will get more details about Boopsie when I get back, but I am told that their technology has impressed many — Yahoo wanted to buy them, apparently — but right now the company is looking to raise Series A funding.

If the team is smart, they should try and position it as a solution for the wireless carriers, who I am sure aren't too thrilled about Google's mobile plans.

Folks if you try it out, please let me know what you think about this little mobile app.



Missing Link Marketing™

Author: Dr. Augustine Fou, Marketing Science Consulting Group, Inc.

In the "age of too much information" marketers need to focus on the information that customers need to get from "considering to buy" to actually buying. These missing links force a re-focusing of marketing messages and methodologies from pushing a benefit message out to allowing the customer to pull the information they need during their own research process.

Missing Link Defined     

What's the missing link?

- works for any product or service - reveals consumers' actions during the purchase decision - deliver practical information efficiently - give consumers what they want rather than what advertisers want to give Assumption

- the next evolution of marketing exists in a landscape where users reach out when they need something and ignore EVERY SINGLE marketing message that is "shouted at them" through traditional one-way channels such as TV, print, and radio. Instead at the moment they want something, who can better and more efficiently deliver the exact info they need (and no more) to help fill that "missing link" that gets the customer to the purchase. How missing link marketing works

continue reading...


Create an HTML Email Signature to Showcase Your Web Presence

MyBlogLog has just added a very convenient feature that allows members to create rich text HTML signatures for use in email programs like Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.

If your web presence is spread across lot of sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, and more, you can put links to all those social profiles in the email signature as in the sample below:

html email signature 

Visit your Personal Profile page on MyBlogLog and click the Edit Signature link to generate your custom email signature.

You also place this signature in Gmail and Yahoo! Mail using the simple drag-n-drop method described in a previous article - Add HTML Signatures with Images In Gmail.

Create MyBlogLog Signature (requires MyBlogLog account) Thanks Robyn


SanDisk has begun shipping its 8GB microSDHC ... [Now Shipping]

sandiskmicrosdhc.gifSanDisk has begun shipping its 8GB microSDHC and M2 flash memory cards. The company hopes that they will find a market among users of memory-card-ready mobile phones. Available now for $140 and $150, respectively. [Electronista]


Outspark Launch Adds Weight to Micro-Transactions Trend

Outspark, a San Francisco-based casual games publisher with offices in Seoul, South Korea, launched its North American games portal yesterday. Like Nexon's South Korean-developed MapleStory, Outspark games will be free to play — in addition to advertising built into the games and the portal, the company will rely on micro-transactions of virtual goods sales to generate revenue.

Their first game, Fiesta, published by OnsOn Soft in Asia, is an MMO currently in open beta. Outspark, which secured $4 million in funding earlier this spring from Altos Ventures and Doll Capital Management, plans to work with other developers to publish community-oriented multiplayer casual games as well.

I put a few questions to CEO Susan Choe and Chief Studio Officer Nick Foster yesterday to get a better sense of the company's plans.

The micro-transaction model has been shown to be very successful in South Korea, where Outspark also has experience, but has been slow to take off in North America. Why do you think that is and why do you think it's time to launch this revenue model here?

SUSAN: The micro-transaction model was slow to gain traction in North America due to a lack of payment solutions like those readily available in Asia. The response of North American gamers, however, to this type of game and item sales model has been tremendous and forms the basis of Outspark's initial releases. Our expertise in running global portals like Yahoo (YHOO) and leading game product management at companies including EA (ERTS), Nexon, Blizzard and NHN will help us continue to deliver great results.

What demographic do you see as your primary target and how will you reach it?

NICK: Outspark's initial target demographic is the youth market, specifically those between the ages of 13 and 24. Friendly, socially driven games appeal to all ages, however, and we're attracting a diverse community of people looking for a different style of play than can be found in conventional console or hardcore games.

Your competition, in my view, is not necessarily World of Warcraft but socially rich Web 2.0 apps like Facebook and YouTube (GOOG). How will your products compete — or integrate — in that space?

SUSAN: Outspark's goal is to provide a socially active virtual playground for online gamers. By providing games that players genuinely want to spend time in and building a community around that shared experience, Outspark can be a good partner for socially rich Web 2.0 companies by providing their communities with additional engaging activities.

You talked [in the release] about Outspark as a "platform." Can you tell us more about that?

NICK: Outspark understands online gaming and the human drivers that make game communities successful. We're combining our expertise in global entertainment with an understanding of virtual item sales and good game design. Outspark's goal is to find media partners and work with them to apply this holistic "platform" approach to help build additional channels for their IP, around which online communities can grow.


Epson Joins Sprint: They Suck And Their New Website Is Stupid

I'm pretty sure there are some consultants out there who are telling big, clueless companies that the way to engage with their audience is to engage with them on an interactive, emotional level. I imagine them saying "let's bolt a few social features onto the product and engage with the MySpace generation." Those consultants convinced Sprint to launch possibly the dumbest website I've seen all year: users fill out a survey and are told which cell phone fits their lifestyle the best.

And now those consultants have conned Epson into doing the same thing on a new site called Epsonality. They ask questions like "You come across a bear in the woods, what do you do?" and "you find $199.99 lying on the ground, what do you do?" and use your answers to somehow determine the right printer for you. All in a sick, highly personalized Flash interface.

My perfect emotional printer partner is, apparently, the Epson C120:

You're an intense, type A-plus with lower-than-average printer patience and a "go, go, go, come one, come on, come on" attitude toward everything from your Internet connection to your microwave oven. You value one thing above all else and the C120 delivers it: blazing speed.

Wow Epson. You nailed me, and I'm a customer for life. Except that I'm not, and never will be. You win the lamest website of the week award and join Sprint as a brand that I will never purchase. The reason? The last time I bought one of your printers the software screwed it up so badly I had to reformat the hard drive just to get it to work again. Since then, I've stuck with HP's.

Fire the consultants, stop trying to be a conversational marketer and just get back to the basics.

Or build a Facebook application. Now that would be cool.


Do The Right Thing: Save An Alien (and this startup)

If a Facebook application supporting Stephen Colbert can get 1 million members in nine days, then perhaps Save An Alien, an Israeli Facebook-only startup, can reach their goal of 10 million users in six months.

I sure hope they do, anyway. Otherwise a bunch of cute little aliens are going to die.

The plot line is straightforward: a meteor is going to strike an alien planet in six months and kill the entire population (10 million aliens, each uniquely generated by an algorithm). We're asked to adopt these aliens. When you've selected the one you like, you adopt it and the alien is transported to safety in Antarctica. You can then do a few other things - download images of it, use a tool to add images of your alien into your own photos, etc.

And if you really like your alien you can buy a tshirt with it on it. I imagine other revenue generating merchandising opportunities may be thought up later, too.

Good idea. We'll see if people's altruistic tendencies extend to fictional aliens. If they do, this company could make a few dollars along the way. 14,000 aliens have been saved so far, so go do your part (or perhaps donate your time and money to a real charity instead)


Friday, October 26, 2007

DIY balloon sent up 30km

Picture 4-46

Alexei Karpenko put together a system consisting of GPS, camera, sensors and communications, sent it to an altitude of 30km, and retrieved it on the ground after a parachute landing. The photos and videos he took are stunning.

High altitude ballooning is an emerging hobby, since price of GPS and communications equipment has gotten quite low. It is an excellent hobby for people fascinated by space flight and telerobotics and has many learning aspects — from systems design to electronics design to software engineering. There is also an exciting risk factor, namely, that you could lose your precious electronics if something malfunctions. In this project, many of my interest and knowledge areas came together. Also, I have verified that the Earth is indeed round and that space is black.
Bre Pettis of MAKE also built and launched a near-space balloon, but never found it. See his videos (part 1 and 2).



Fuzzy Math That Seems To Work? TrialPay Says They Can Make Money From Free

trialpay_logo.pngMaybe you want to try Skype-out, but don't want to be saddled with paying for unused minutes if the "VOIP revolution in telephony" isn't your thing. Well, Mountain View-based TrialPay will let you get a 3 month trial of free minutes by buying something on eBay or participating in any of 129 other partner offers.

The Skype deal is just one example of TrialPlay's ongoing promotions to help services make some money, while hooking new users and advertisers gain customers from trying something new, while paying for something familiar. The company is working with over 1,500 businesses to let users "pay" for their products by participating in an advertisers program, which range from buying the Economist, to trying out anti-wrinkle cream.

While TrialPay CEO Alex Rampell can't say how much Skype is making off their offers, he did say that "for most of our merchants, we are yielding between 10-100% in incremental revenue. A company like Skype might make $80 on a consumer not willing to buy their $8.85 calling plan". He went on to say "Skype now yields significant revenue for, because people shop at in order to get Skype credits for free". Conceivably, users not willing to buy Skype may be willing to buy enough from Staples to actually generate more revenue than Skype's purchase price. He made no qualifications about how commonly the over-achieving offers occur, though.


Nokia's 5 megapixel N82 with WiFi and GPS spotted?

Filed under: ,

There it is, the first spy shot of Nokia's N82. Don't remember this Espoo candybar? No worries, the last update was way back in May when news was first leaked. Back then, the N82 was rumored to pack quad-band GSM, 2100MHz HSDPA, a 2.4-inch 240x320 display, WiFi, GPS, FM Tuner and biggie 5 megapixel camera with Xenon flash and Carl Zeiss lens. So until we hear otherwise, that's what we'll assume until the supposed announcement on November 2nd. Right, that's just 1 week from today.

[Via Unwired View]


Brando Adapts eSATA Drives to USB with a Simple Adapter [Easy Attachment]

frontusb-to-esata-1.jpgWe've already seen a clever way to conveniently adapt eSATA hard drives to USB, and now here's an even easier and cheaper way to do that from Brando. It's a $15 adapter, and sure, you'll have to add $10 to that ticket to get a power supply to fire up that drive, but the money saved by using a bare drive instead of buying an enclosure will make up for that. So do the math: You get one of these and a power supply for $25, a Hitachi Deskstar 1TB drive for $300, and you have a TB for $325. Good deal. Or you can get a slower but arguably prettier Western Digital My Book 1TB external drive for around $350. Either way, that's a heap of storage, ain't it? [ Brando]


First image of Fisker's plug-in luxury hybrid released?

You can't be too careful these days, but if the above image isn't just the work of some overzealous fanboy (or girl), that's what Fisker's forthcoming luxury plug-in hybrid will look like. The vehicle itself will be developed in conjunction with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies, which reportedly hopes to aid Fisker in developing an entire line of "environmentally friendly premium cars." If all goes well, the whip could make its North American entrance at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, but as you can probably imagine, owning such a svelte looking ride won't run you cheap. The company plans to crank out some 15,000 of these creations initially and fetch around $100,000 for each, but until we actually get the word that people are taking delivery, we won't get too attached.

[Via Autoblog]


Elle MacPherson: The Interactive Storefront

For New York Fashion Week, Elle MacPherson Intimates launched an interactive storefront, allowing users to reveal the video footage of the models on the windows through their movements on the street. This is by no means a new medium but it has been executed very well and has received a lot of positive WOM.


Via [TrendHunter]


Babel TV set-top-box weds Freeview, PVR, and internet

We've never been much for using one's television as their primary web surfing display -- after all, how do you expect to get any work done with last week's episode of The Office drawing your attention away from that oh-so-critical PowerPoint -- but for those who'd enjoy access every now and then without having to attach a dedicated computer, Babel TV could be just the thing. Available solely in the UK, this multifaceted set-top-box enables users to tune into and record Freeview broadcasts, stream video clips / programming from the web and even make VoIP calls. Furthermore, the box is "managed remotely by Babel TV's technical team," and copies of all your files can be automatically stored at a secure location (for a price, we presume). Reportedly, the unit should be available early next month for £295 ($602), and yes, that does include a wireless keyboard and pointer to keep you firmly planted on the sofa.


Internet to Remain Tax-Free For At Least Four More Years

The tax moratorium on the Internet runs out on November 1, but the Senate just passed an extension. It just has to agree with the House on how long it will be (the Senate wants 7 more years, the House wants four), before sending it the President. You kind of take the tax-free thing for granted when it comes to e-commerce. But it is not going to last forever. E-commerce is all grown up, and no longer needs the coddling that the original legislation provided. Although, it makes you wonder how much slower Internet sales would be growing (compared to being up 23 percent last quarter) if you had to pay sales tax.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Patent Monkey Joins Deadpool, Only To Rise Again as

patentmonkey.png Someone just shot the monkey. Patent Monkey, a Web-based patent database, is closing up shop and selling its assets to domain-name holding company Internet Real Estate Group (IREG) and Monster Venture Partners (MVP). (Disclosure: Patent Monkey is a CrunchGear affiliate). The Patent Monkey search and index capabilities will serve as the back-end technology for, which IRG recently acquired for an undisclosed sum speculated to be over $1 million. Patent Monkey co-founder Paul Ratcliffe will make the transition to as CEO, while co-founder Cory Sorice has moved on to Black & Decker as Director of Business Development. Patent Monkey now joins the deadpool.

patentscom.pngBut it shall rise again as, which is slated to launch in the next few weeks, coinciding closely with a series A venture round that Monster says should close within the next 30 days. plans to serve both the mainstream market and lawyers, but given Patent Monkey's inability to reach profitability in this space, it remains debatable whether or not the new entity, with more overhead, will have any more luck. On the other hand, Free Patents Online currently sits in the Alexa top 3,000 and does business solely through ads, suggesting that has the potential to turn a profit through targeted ad sales alone.

More interesting, however, is's potential to broach the more professional realm of Internet IP, a field currently dominated by Delphion . Due in part to its ad-supported initiative, it can forgo the $100 - $250 monthly fee that Delphion charges—a move that could help it to gain traction more quickly. The goal then is to create an international patent licensing network wherein patent owners can claim their patents and provide contact information. could then serve as a sort of patents brokerage, providing a communications conduit between patent owners and patent searchers who may wish to license them, which is not insignificant. According to McKinsey Quarterly (PDF file) , the licensing of U.S. patents alone grosses $100 billion annually, indicating that a channel for effectively communicating with patent holders could be monetized handsomely.

Monster Venture Partners founder Rob Monster will serve as chairman for the newly structured entity. Through Monster's involvement, the new will be translated into 15 languages using Worldlingo, a company in which Monster sits on the board.

While will launch serving only U.S. patents, it has ambitions to soon index documents from the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) and the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). Stephen Pinkos, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will serve as's Executive Vice President. It also probably won't hurt that Monster's Worldlingo currently holds the translation contract for the EPO (a task that it claims to complete with 95% accuracy). will be worth watching to see how a domainer firm can do transitioning from a holding company to an operating company.


Nokia: S60 Gets New Features, Stepping Out of iPhone's Shadow?

touchscreen.jpgThe folks at Crave UK recently got a chance to tour Nokia's R&D facility in Finland; and while they may have seen a robot dog, the real prize here was updated information on the S60 Touch UI. We already knew that the software, accused of being an iPhone clone by some, had a couple of sweet features that the iPhone couldn't compete with (namely, stylus input and tactile feedback response). What we didn't know is that the R&D team is also working on an app that translates foreign words in pictures taken with the phone's camera, and another one that identifies objects by pointing the camera at them (finding product information while shopping is one proposed use). Hit the gallery to see it all up close, and let us know what other apps you'd like to see in the comments. [Crave UK]


Advertising With Flyers On Facebook - Do The Ads Bring Traffic ?

As an experiment, I recently ran two advertising campaigns on Facebook - one used Flyers Basic (CPC) and the second used Flyers Pro (CPM). If you are wondering how effective are Facebook ads in terms of clicks, here are the results:

1. Facebook Flyers Basic - They cost $5 to display your ad 2,500 times on various Facebook pages. I bought 5,000 ad impressions on Facebook and here's what Google Analytics has to say about the number of clicks received from Facebook - Total Visits = 5

facebook flyers

[Facebook won't share the click-through-rate for Flyers Basic version]

2. Facebook Flyers Pro - This is a CPC ad program of Facebook where you pay only for the clicks. Flyers Pro The ads made around 800 impressions on Facebook and the number of visitor clicks received was five (CTR = 0.6%).

facebook flyers pro

Though the above advertising campaigns on Facebook were run for a very short period, they do indicate that the click through rates for ads appearing on Facebook can be extremely low.

Sidenote: If you are located outside US, you can make the payment for Facebook Flyers via International Credit Cards but not PayPal. The Payment page for Flyers looks as if it won't accept non-US credit cards but just type your full address and it will work just fine.

Related: How Blogs Can Fix Their Advertising Rates


Money, Money: Motorola's Mobile Division Drops Nearly a Billion Bucks Compared with Last Year

motodown.jpgEven if you aren't an accountant (I'm not) you can tell right off the bat things aren't so sunny when you only see the word "sales" leading the press release bullet points, and not the words "net income" or "profit." Such is the case with Motorola, continuing their downward spiral. The release highlights tout $8.8 billion in sales and "financial improvements in the mobile devices business." Ruh-roh. The mobile section choked down an operating loss of $138 million—a nearly billion dollar drop from the year-ago Q3's operating earnings of $843 million—on sales of $4.5 billion, down 36 percent from last year.

They estimate their global handset marketshare to be 13 percent, jibing with an earlier report , which marks a drop from 22 percent marketshare a year earlier. We've said it before, and it's worth repeating, a real flagship would help the languishing brand power and maybe edge it back toward claiming its old number 2 spot from Samsung. Or, you know, you could maintain your image of pumping out RAZR knockoffs and bleeding money like you've got the deadly Motaba virus. [Motorola]



Web users tend to ignore everything that looks like advertisement and, what is interesting, they're pretty good at it. Although advertisement is noticed, it is almost always ignored. Since users have constructed web related schemata for different tasks on the Web, when searching for specific information on a website, they focus only on the parts of the page where they would assume the relevant information could be, i.e. small text and hyperlinks. Large colourful or animated banners and other graphics are in this case ignored.

Banner Blindness
Source: Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings


Fraud-B-Gone: ATM Card Comes With Its Own Keypad

ATM_Card_with_keypad.jpgFor people whose paranoia leads them to believe that there are boogeymen actually living inside ATMs, this invention from Innovative Card Technologies and eMue Technologies lets them input their PIN—and presumably encrypt it—before they approach the machine. Cool as it is, I have a problem: I only remember my PINs from muscle memory, so this would need a standard telephone numberpad to work for me. How many problems can you spot with this admittedly slim piece of high technology? [Gizmag via OhGizmo]


NEC touts "world's fastest vector supercomputer"

NEC looks to have earned itself some new bragging rights in the supercomputer club with its new SX-9 model, which it claims is the "world's fastest vector supercomputer" on the market today. Helping it earn that distinction is a peak processing performance of 839 teraflops, and a peak vector performance of more than 100 gigaflops per single core (apparently a first for any supercomputer). That, NEC hopes, should make the SX-9 ideal for a wide range of uses, including weather forecasting, aerospace, the environment and fluid dynamics. No word on what it'll cost, but those looking to check out all that teraflopping for themselves should head to the Supercomputing 2007 expo in Reno, Nevada next month, where the SX-9 will make its public debut.

[Via Physorg]


Rollup Screen: Samsung Demos World's First Bendable OLED Screen

samsung_oled_500.jpgSamsung is cranking out the ideas with OLED displays lately, and now adds the world's first bendable OLED screen to its stable of coolness. This 4.3-inch screen's rocking 480x272 pixels, and Samsung claims it's capable of a contrast ratio of 1000:1. Demonstrated at the FPD International 2007 Forum going on now in Yokohama, Japan, this prototype is in the early experimental stage thus far, but if Samsung can build one they can build a million of them. There's no word on how soon the company will be able to do that at a reasonable price, though. Anyway, we can't wait for the day when we can carry around cylindrical objects that open up to huge screens, using up very little energy while entertaining us everywhere. [New Launches]


Facebook: My Take

Since Microsoft paid $240 million for 1.6% of Facebook, I thought I'd make a comment.

Open wins.

Facebook opened its platform for developers to make apps for it; their efforts which were zero cost to Facebook made it more valuable for users. Now everyone is opening their network through APIs and trying to be a "platform" even MySpace -- but it's too little too late.

Palm made Palm OS something that developers could develop apps for and thus make the product more valuable at no cost to Palm.

But ...

It is not necessarily sustainable forever. Palm had its day in the sun, but it too failed to innovate along with user trends -- it's heyday was before phones became PDAs, cameras, and MP3 players.

In mid 90's Yahoo solved a particular large need as the web was starting to get unwieldy -- a directory of sites curated by humans which helped organize the info into a yellow-pages like directory. It had its day in the sun.

Then as the amount of information continued to skyrocket, a more efficient way was needed so help users get to what they wanted. Google came along with a better search algorithm, and also did a nice thing for users -- made the homepage so simple it contained only 1 textbox (what a concept!). It quickly took the crown from Yahoo and users switched since there was little to zero switching costs (even the Yahoo personalized homepage which I invested time into was not enough to keep me on Yahoo). Google is having its day in the sun -- but what's next?

The next "pair" of "contestants" is MySpace and Facebook. As users spent more and more time online, their real-life social interactions were also desperate to have an outlet online. MySpace was one of the earliest to solve it, specifically for the younger set of users who practically grew up online. They had their day in the sun, but also failed to innovate along with user trends. MySpace was the "web 2" version of GeoCities but lacked better social functions.

Then Facebook came along (after they opened membership to the public, rather than just alums) and the killer feature was the sharing of apps and the open platform. The sharing helped amplify the reach and speed of the social interactions. Facebook is having its day in the sun -- but what's next? Microsoft is desperate and definitely paying a premium to play catchup. Facebook has a shot at building sustainability but as it moves towards an advertising revenue model it risks offending and alienating the very users it seeks to serve.

It will be interesting to see whether Facebook can avoid the same fate of Yahoo and Palm (and MySpace) despite being such a huge success thus far.


this is how it gets REAL (for advertisers) - consumer power

These Young Girls Are Flipping Your Brand Into the Dustbin

Women of 3iYing Launch a Viral Effort to Tell You How Bad Your Ads Are

By Ken Wheaton Published: October 22, 2007

This is one viral sensation you don't want to be part of. It's called Flip. The premise is simple: A young girl films herself flipping your brand into the dustbin because its advertising is offensive, insulting or just plain stupid.

Girl tested, girl approved: Heide Dangelmaier (center) brainstorms with 22-year-old Natalie Rodriguez (l.) and Rosaura Lezama, 20.

Girl tested, girl approved: Heide Dangelmaier (center) brainstorms with 22-year-old Natalie Rodriguez (l.) and Rosaura Lezama, 20.
Photo Credit: Andrew Walker

There are 190 such videos on a dedicated YouTube channel as of this writing. And 3iYing, the all-girl creative consultancy behind the effort, says it's received 400 entries and counting since opening up the concept to the public more than a month ago.

Brands that have been flipped include Lifestyles, Sony, Candies, MAC cosmetics and Lot 29 Juniors. Many get hit because the ads seem tailor-made not for girls but rather the lads who read titles such as Maxim or even Penthouse. Said a girl complaining about Christina Aguilera's sexed-up appearance in a Candies ad: "Christina Aguilera getting down and dirty with herself is a guy's fantasy, not something a girl wants to see." And 12-year-old Selina holds up an ad she found in a tween magazine and wonders why Lot 29 Juniors is trying to sell her jeans by featuring what appears to be a D-cup temptress (R&B artist Brooke Valentine) striking come-hither poses.

Leopard prints and pink laptops

Even when the product is for more-mature women, the advertising wildly misses the mark. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry as 20-year-old Jennifer, with the help of other young women, takes down an ad for a Lifestyles sensual gel. The product is designed to give women better and more-frequent orgasms. So what's the problem? It features a bottle-blonde in a leopard print unitard. The copy reads, "Release your inner beast." Words the women used to describe this pictorial representation of their inner beast: "hooker," "slut," a "very low-end porno girl" and "total whore." One says the ad seems directly aimed at men. So much for the target audience. "It ended up turning girls off before it ever had a chance of turning them on," Jennifer says. Sony gets hit for featuring a pink laptop on the beach. Says 19-year-old Emily, "First of all, you would never bring your laptop to the beach." And even if you did -- and it matched your bikini -- you wouldn't leave it unattended to run off into the water.

According to a Sony spokeswoman, "While we understand 3iYing's take on this Vaio ad, we believe that ads are subjective and shouldn't necessarily be taken literally. The Sony Vaio shown in this ad is one of our best-selling models, and we think conveys the message that Vaios (especially in colors like pink) are fun and liberating." She also pointed out that the pink Vaios are part of Sony's pink-product lineup developed to support the Breast Cancer Research Fund. (Neither Lot 29 nor Lifestyles returned a request for comment by press time.)

Of course, there is a business angle to this. "We want to be advocates for girls, but we're not a nonprofit," said 3iYing founder Heidi Dangelmaier. She declined to discuss billings but said the company, which offers marketers a girl-centric mix of strategic planning, new-product creation, brand positioning, package design and creative treatments, makes money from licensing deals as well as projects.

Ms. Dangelmaier is fast-talking and passionate, someone who was pushing social networking back in the '90s, long before it was a buzzword, and throughout her consulting career has been an advocate for the girl audience. It's little wonder. She worked on her Ph.D. in the geeky but testosterone-laden field of robotics at Princeton, where she found that guys weren't necessarily sexist; they simply had no idea how women processed information or approached creativity. Not surprisingly, she went on to work with such marketers as Sega, Electronic Arts and Samsung.

Surviving 'boot camp'

For the past two years, she's been running 3iYing as a creative consultancy for brands. The company is made up of Ms. Dangelmaier and a group of girls and women ranging in age from 16 to 22, many of them recruited from art and design programs in the New York area. The girls must have the necessary skills and go through a "boot camp" program, and they're paid to work.

It's not the giggling gab-fest a cynic (or a man) might expect. And 3iYing isn't set up to be a trend-spotting shop. A recent visit to the SoHo office of 3iYing found two girls quietly working away on redesigning, the website for anything and everything related to cheerleading in the U.S.

Cheerleading, despite what some might think, is a big business, and it's taken seriously by the millions of girls who participate. Yet the old design is heavy on pink and a multitude of fonts -- a decidedly Web 0.5 affair. It looks like something someone thinks a girl should like rather than something a girl might actually like.

The company also has worked for brands such as Playtex, Rubbermaid, Merck and Unilever, doing everything from new-product development to package design. One notable project was a "modern-girl makeover" for Jones Apparel's L.E.I. denim line that included branding, positioning, identity, packaging, activation and advertising concepts. Said Ms. Dangelmaier: "It gave us a chance to show that even in an area as bloated with competitors as the denim industry, you can still create something fresh that stands out above the clutter."

Backfiring ads

The idea behind the Flip campaign -- aside from promoting the company and snagging more work -- is to help advertising stand out above the clutter for the right reasons. Marketers, Ms. Dangelmaier said, are not only throwing massive amounts of money away on bad advertising; they're angering the target audience. It isn't so much the tawdry, oversexed nature of some ads or the reliance on pink in others that they find offensive; it's just plain old-fashioned stupidity -- a creative outcome that could come only from the minds of people who have no inkling about what girls actually think.

Indeed, listening to Ms. Dangelmaier speak or watching some of the videos on the site, they're not suggesting anything radical. Get past the fact that she's a bit of an eccentric science type and that most of the girls aren't old enough to drink, and you'll hear a mix of best practices culled from traditional and Web 2.0 advertising.

The consumer is in control. Priorities have shifted to the audience -- in this case, girls. The ads and spots should be something she wants to see. The website has to be a place where she wants to spend time.

In one video, Jennifer (of the Lifestyles takedown) offers marketers and agencies an idea of what a girl wants from an ad: design, humor, intelligence, originality, truth.

Different generation

"Forget girl power," she said. "How about good ideas? That's what we want."

Beyond that, of course, is the fact that they're girls of a much different generation. It's no longer about geography or even demographics. There is a fairly dramatic difference in a 25-year-old woman who's likely just a little too old to have "grown up" with MySpace and YouTube. For those 22 and under, it's an entirely different world.

"It's not geographic borders that divide us. That girl in Ohio isn't locked away in isolation anymore," Ms. Dangelmaier said. Indeed, there's a bit of international flair to the Flips. Rosauro Lezama, a 20-year-old native of Mexico who moved to the U.S. and intends to major in marketing and graphic design, works for 3iYing and has done her fair share of Flips. The problems, she said, are universal. "They have the same problems in Mexico. I thought it would be different here."

Girls can now find their own niches, make different circles of friends. They're socializing and sharing -- and, yes, oversharing -- online. Where the 25-year-old may have written some autobiographical poetry on LiveJournal, the 20-year-old is using video to get her point across. In the process, she's learning a thing or two about media. Since these kids are using some of the same creative tools the professionals use, they have first-hand knowledge of the manipulation and editing that goes on. Dove's "Evolution" in other words, may have been a revelation to their parents, it was nothing new to girls in that age group.

Of course, there's a thriving industry built around telling marketers and advertisers how to advertise. It would probably be naïve to think a group of girls will get anyone to listen with a video camera and righteous indignation. In fact, none of the videos have approached true viral status yet.

Still, Ms. Dangelmaier said, "the humanity of the Flips might start changing their minds."


Vegetable Marrow

from IDEAS IN FOOD by Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot

Today was great with discovery.  I have wanted to figure out the functional viability of brussel spout stalks.  Aki has cooked up broccoli stems and has me trained not to get rid of them no matter what.  I have seen cauliflower stems used in dishes at Alinea and McCrady's.  Yet I was curious about the large stalk which brussel sprouts grow from.

I spent the morning in the city at the green market.  I picked up a number of great ingredients from sunchokes and wild watercress, which I have somehow lost, to brussel sprouts sold on the stalk, my initial reason for going to the market.  When they sell the sprouts on the stalk, there are some beautiful specimens as well as a number of sprouts which have gone past their prime.  The variety in quality did not deter my want and need for procuring the brussel sprout stalk.

When I returned home I trimmed the sprouts off the stalk and then watched my knife bounce off the stalk itself.  What the heck had I gotten myself into?  I then pulled out a serrated knife and tried to cut through the Brusselsproutmarrow stalk.  When I was halfway through the stalk I tried to break it.  Silly me.  Now my leg is bruised.  I used the knife to cut all the way through the stalk and what I found was well worth the effort.  The center of the brussel sprout stalk is tender and a mirror image of bone marrow.  As it turns out I was cutting through brussel sprout bones.  So, we cut the stalk in several different ways and then pressure cooked the pieces to tenderize the vegetable marrow.

After ten minutes in the pressure cooker what I imagined as vegetable marrow had the silky rich decadence and texture, without the fatty quality, of true bone marrow.

I am not sure how we will use this marrow, though a dousing of anchovy butter and some grilled toast would not be a bad place to start.  I suppose we will also look at traditional methods of serving and preparing marrow and adapt them to our brussel sprout marrow.


Gigapan Project Brings Gigapixel Panoramas to the Web

gigapan-logo.pngThe Web is getting more visually immersive all the time. For a peak at what a gigapixel pannoramic image looks like on the Web check out Gigapan, a project at Carnegie Mellon University. Using a rotating stand that it sells for $279, anyone can use their digital camera to take panoramic pictures stitched together from multiple shots. You can zoom in and zoom out with amazing clarity, and really dive deep into the pictures.

gigapan-ggbridge-small.png gigapan-bmsmall.png


Cellphones: Samsung F700 Coming to Verizon?

from Gizmodo by

f700.jpgAccording to the folks at Crunchgear, a variant of the much hyped Samsung F700 will be making its way into the open arms of Verizon users sometime in the near future. Outside of that, no other details exist and an official announcement has yet to be made —so try and keep your excitement in check. [ CrunchGear]


Yes, Plz: Netflix Considering Distributing Movies Via Consoles, Set-Top Box

netflixbox.jpgDuring its mostly positive Q3 earnings call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings dropped word they're looking at "internet connected game consoles" and "dedicated internet set tops with a variety of partners, trying to understand the best ways to provide inexpensive viewing of online content on the television." Hey Reed, we're with you 100 percent—we even laid out exactly how you should do it. You can thank us by actually making it, which should also help shake the doubters on your long-term prospects. No, no, it's cool, we're here to help. [ Gamasutra via Gaming Today ]


Design Concept: Disappearing Wall Stairs Should Be In Every Millionaire's Home

product_wallstairs.gifAaron Tang's wall stairs are meant for living areas that are short on space, but they're so awesome that I'd want them even if I had 1,000,000 sq. ft. house. They work by having the frame of the stairs slide out from the wall, powered by hydraulic pistons, and having the stair planks fold over the frame one at a time. When finished, the stair frame slides back in the wall and the planks stand straight up, flush against the wall. Imagine, next time you're at a mansion/estate/castle party, you walk into the foyer to find no stairs at all. Then the owner hits a button on a remote and stairs appear from the wall. I'm pretty sure your mind would be blown. [Aaron Tang via Architechnophilia via TreeHugger]


Apple and Sony, like peas in an iPod

Funny huh? We knew something was a tad too familiar with those Sony DSC-T2 Cyber-shot cameras announced yesterday. Now, Engadget Japanese reveals why. Those pictures are official, un-doctored press shots from both Apple and Sony. The former (and we mean former) comes courtesy of since it's been supplanted by Apple's new nano. Of course, Apple's no saint in these matters either. Flattery at its finest, eh? Sony,


LCDs: Hands on Samsung's LED Backlit HDTV LCD (Verdict: LN-T4681F Best Ever)

IMG_2539.JPGThe LED backlighting on Samsung's 1080p 81-series makes it the best LCD I've ever seen. You've been hearing about such a screen's advantages for months—that it can turn off individual LEDs section to section, moment to moment, keeping blacks blacker and brights brighter—but over the last few weeks with this TV I'm sold on the tech. Even without running test discs, it's clearly blacker than the last LCD I tested, the 65 series Samsung, and I suspect it's blacker than the Sharp 92 series TV I tested before that, which is one of the best LCDs ever made in this regard. But unlike both of these great LCDs, it does not sacrifice shadow detail or brightness when tuned black. It has no problem whatsoever maintaining the greys from washing to nothingness. UPDATE: Great memory, haragr, The Qualia 005 was first, at $15k. There's more great feedback in the comments.

I tested using an HDMI splitter from Gefen, Blu-ray and HD DVD titles like 300, Batman Beyond, and Xbox games like Halo 3, Halo 3, and Halo 3. I don't think that motion handling was improved over the last generation LCD, and plasma still has the advantage here. But the picture is as life-like as I've seen on a TV like this generation. It is a big jump. But not perfect. Although Sound and Vision and CNet liked this TV's predecessor a lot, and are bound to love this one, a quick standard def HQV test disc test showed that the TV is running the same level of upscaling performance as the 65f. PC mag didn't love that about this TV and to my eye, it was a middling performer at best. Color seemed even to me, uncalibrated, when viewing a simple color bar pattern. Like all the glossy screened Samsung TVs, it kicks up a lot of glare, and the case itself is a dust magnet. It has an 8ms response time, which is twice that of the 65f series, but that didn't bother me a bit; I've never been able to directly qualify 120hz or sub 8ms response times as something I could notice. (Unlike the contrast of this TV.)

The LED count behind the screen is in the hundreds, and there are dozens of sections that can be individually controlled. The dimming occurs in many degrees, and because LEDs can be turned down with a greater degree of control than CCFLs, its easy to get lighting to be pretty close to zero without dropping to complete black. That helps gray detail. The controls are pretty bad-ass, too: Full touch controls for everything, and the power switch is the round semi circle under the logo. Very slick.

The TV itself isn't cheap: For a 46-inch set, you'll pay $4000 at Crutchfield, but like anything, they'll drop in price soon enough.

So far, this is the best LCD I've seen yet. Highly recommended. I'll either match this up against a Pioneer Kuro or a Olevia LCD next. [Stats at Samsung]


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Create your own polls


Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 Google Products You Forgot All About

Living in the shadow of Gmail, Reader and Calendar's got to be tough, but that's what a slew of useful Google products do every day. We give Google's front-running applications a lot of ink (or pixels, as it were), and the rest a passing mention in the fast-flowing river of news. Today's top 10 pays homage to the little brother and sister Google products that you forgot all about.

10. Google Code Search

10-code-search.png Mostly of interest only to programmers, Google Code Search is a pretty incredible mechanism for finding and browsing the innards of countless open source projects. Use the lang: operator to limit your results to a certain language, and search by developer name, file name, or comments. Here's a search for the words "nasty hack" in PHP code—lang:PHP nasty hack—and here's a search for Javascript authored by Gmail Macros developer Mihai Parparita.

9. Google Base

Easily publish and find recipes, classifieds, vacation rentals and job listings at Google Base, a no-web site way to get data online and into Google's search results. What's great about Base is that it offers data type-specific search operators. For example, you can search recipes by ingredient, or vacation rentals by location and features like how many bedrooms, and what type of property it is (cabin, cottage, hotel, villa, house, etc.)

8. Google Trends


Compare the "world's interest" in certain words and topics at Google Trends, which charts the number of times a word or phrase appeared on the web over time. Great for checking out the history of popular neologisms and brand names (like iPhone or lifehacker), you can also pit terms against one another. You can see from the image above that the phrase "getting things done" has been around a lot longer than the word "lifehacker." (Pit GTD vs lifehacker at Google Trends.)

7. Google Alerts


Make your web search results come to you with Google Alerts, email notifications of new web pages search terms pop up on as the Googlebot discovers them. Google Alerts automatically hands me Lifehacker story ideas every morning, and it's also great to ego search your own name, web site title or product name, too. To get results for several term searches in one alert, separate them with a pipe (|) or combine terms with AND, like wildfire AND "San Diego".

6. Google Book Search

06-booksearch.png Remember those rectangular objects that you used to read by turning a page from one side to the other? Ah, those were the days. You can still get your books online at Google Book Search, whose book-scanning elves add to the digital library all the time. Flip through pages of the books scanned into Book Search, and add books to your personal virtual library as well. Along those same lines, academics won't want to forget about Google Scholar for searching papers, theses, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.

5. Google Page Creator

06-pagecreator.png When Aunt Martha and Uncle Skip ask how to set up a web page? Point 'em to Google Page Creator, a totally web-based, WYSIWYG web site creation tool that hosts up to 100MB of files for free.

4. Google Notebook


We all find snippets of web pages, quotes, and images all over the web we want to copy to a personal library, and Google Notebook is a powerful way to do just that. Whether you're researching a particular project, capturing ideas as you come across them online, or Getting Things Done, Notebook (especially coupled with its companion Firefox extension) is a powerful, useful tool.

3. Flight Simulator in Google Earth

Ok, so Google doesn't make a flight simulator, but they do hide one in the latest version of Google Earth. Download Google Earth 4.2 , and to enter flight sim mode, hit Ctrl+Alt+A (Mac users: Cmd+Opt+A), choose your plane, airport and runway. Google Earth's flight simulator isn't a walk in the park for newbs, so here's more info on how to take off and navigate the friendly, virtual skies .

2. Keyboard Shortcuts Experimental Web Search

Hidden deep in the bowels of Google Labs is the Keyboard Shortcuts flavor of web search, which takes your mouse out of web search entirely. Once you're using Keyboard Shortcuts search (just add "&esrch=BetaShortcuts" to your Google URLs), use J and K to move up and down a search results list. Open a link using O or the Enter key; bring your cursor to the search box using / (forward slash), and Esc to get out of the search box. Here, install the keyboard shortcuts version of Google search into Firefox or IE7's built-in search box for easy access.

1. SketchUp

Free 3-D modeling program Google SketchUp lets anyone virtually architect their dream house, remodeled kitchen, office, spaceship or skyscraper. Download Google SketchUp for free, for Mac or PC.
This was a tough list to winnow down, as Google's full product list is long and prodigious. In fact, we're still having regrets about leaving Patent Search, Google Moon, and Google Mars off the list. What's your top lower-profile Google app? Shout it out in the comments.