Friday, July 06, 2007

MyThings Tracks Your Things

from TechCrunch by Duncan Riley

mythings.gif MyThings is a service that allows users to create an online portfolio of valued belongings.

We reviewed iTaggit earlier this week; MyThings operates in the same space. Both provide personal asset management although MyThings is the more extensive offering of the two; MyThings took $8million from Carmel Ventures and Accel Partners in May 2006 and the funding shows.

MyThings offers a integrated one stop shop for collectibles. Items can be included in the database, with tags and pictures. Once listed users are able to obtain a valuation for the item, buy (or extend) the items warranty, purchase insurance, sell the item on eBay and even donate am item to a worthy cause. MyThings also includes an extensive database of items reported lost and stolen from the world of art, antiques and collectibles; MyThings users are able to add stolen items to the database at any time and likewise the service is able to screen new submissions for items that may have been stolen.

The company has offices in Menlo Park, London and Tel Aviv, delivering a global product with a lot of appeal. Perhaps my earlier assessment of the space (in the iTaggit review) as being niche was unwarranted; the extensive user collections listed on MyThings would indicate that listing collections online may actually be a hot vertical.



iTaggit: Personal Asset Management

itaggit.png iTaggit aims to change the way people collect, organize, and enjoy their personal items and collections by providing a service to catalog collections online.

iTaggit provides an online environment for cataloguing, managing, and sharing collections of items, while preserving user and data privacy. The site features community resources, where users can connect and interact with friends, like-minded collectors, and experts. Recent upgrades include an Add Item Wizard, a Flickr-like picture uploader, an Amazon import tool, and Item Publisher.

The best way of describing iTaggit is as a personal asset management service. If you’re a hobbyist or someone who likes cataloguing collections then iTaggit will appeal; although notably this would likely be a relatively small vertical.

iTaggit took $1.04 million Series A financing round in August 2006 and makes revenue from eBay and similar affiliate advertising programs.


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Belgium Says ISPs Must Protect Copyright

mp3communism.pngA court in Belgium has ruled that an Internet Service Provider bears the responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing on its network. Although the ruling was made in Belgium, it relies on the E.U. copyright directive and may set precedent for the entire Union according to IFPI, an organization that represents the recording industry world wide.

Belgian courts have sided strongly with copyright holder in the past as well. In February, they ordered Google to stop copying Belgian newspaper headlines into their news and search indexes.

The suit was brought by a group representing Belgian authors an composers (SABAM) against ISP Scarlet, formerly Tiscali. In 2004, the SABAM received an injuction against the ISP, which assigned an expert whose investigation provided 11 ways to prevent infringement across the network. The judge agreed and Scarlet has 6 months to enact anti-piracy measure or face fines of up to $4,300 per day.

However, although the ruling means Scarlet must prevent piracy, it doesn’t require monitoring all network traffic. The Register quotes a SABAM statement saying, “The solutions identified by the expert are ‘technical instruments’ that limit themselves to blocking or filtering certain information transmitted on the network of TISCALI (SCARLET). They do not constitute a general obligation to monitor the network.”

Similar suits have traditionally not proven successful in the US, because ISPs have been seen simply as “common carriers“, not responsible for the contents of the packages they deliver. This has lead to a game of cat and mouse between pirates and copyright holders, epitomized by companies like MediaDefender allegedly trying to track down and catch copyright violators. As a side note, MediaDefender says the alleged honey pot,, was an R&D experiment and the scandal surrounding it was a “libelously fabricated story”.

Now copyright holders are again trying to go after the bottleneck for piracy, the networks themselves. Because filtering technologies no longer place as harsh a burden on content providers, the industry is in transition and expectations are changing. After a lawsuit by Viacom, YouTube has begun scrubbing their own network for copyrighted content. Recently, AT&T announced they are making plans to track copyright infringement on their network.

Copyright protection company Media Rights Technologies has tried to push companies into implementing anti-piracy measures on their networks. They recently requested a cease and desist order against Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Real Networks alleging the companies are in violation of the DMCA because they are not implementing copyright protection on their systems, namely their own product. They’re also cheer leading their own bill, the “Perform Act”, through congress with the help of senators Feinstein (D), Graham (R), Biden (D) and Alexander.


How To: Create an RSS embedded desktop

RSSDesktop.png Looking to make better use of the desktop? Instead of mindlessly staring at the wallpaper, a user at Instructables embedded a bunch of RSS feeds right into the desktop. The Instructable helps you build an HTML file with your favorite RSS feeds and size it appropriately for your desktop. The final product is a lightweight desktop background chocked-full of RSS feeds that automatically updates itself every 10 minutes. If you're looking for a quicker approach, you can get a similar effect using widgets/gadgets, or by embedding Netvibes content into your wallpaper.

RSS Desktop [Instructables]


Linux Tip: Run Windows and Linux apps side-by-side

WinLinSideBySide.png Adam's guide to running Windows and Mac apps side-by-side left me craving a similar process for Windows apps in Linux. The Venture Cake weblog shows how you can get an effect similar to Coherence for Parallels in Mac using VMware Server and rdesktop in Linux. You need to install Windows as a virtual machine, make a registry hack to remove the Windows desktop, and then connect to the virtual machine using rdesktop. VC touts that the entire process (not including the time it takes to install Windows) takes less than 10 minutes.