Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Intel Invests In Four "Digital Home" Firms

Intel Invests In Four "Digital Home" Firms: "Intel's Digital Home Fund, worth a total of $200 million, invested an undisclosed amount of capital into Digital 5 Inc.; a provider of consumer electronics networking technology; Staccato Communications Inc., an ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless solutions developer; Trymedia Systems Inc., a secure distribution technology and services provider; and Wisair Ltd., a UWB wireless chipset and solutions company."
Intel Capital's top investment priorities for this year are related to communications infrastructure, the digital home, modular computing solutions for IT departments, and wireless mobility, the company said.

SAD: There are many interesting things happening in the media and entertainment space, especially for the digital home.

Trouble on Silicon Valley's doorstep | Newsmakers | CNET

Trouble on Silicon Valley's doorstep | Newsmakers | CNET "The new enterprise has to do five things: respond and deliver to support demand; grow or shrink, based upon changes in demand; operate any time, anywhere, under any conditions; minimize asset and labor content per unit of production; and provide real-time transparency of operations, both internal and external. Those will be necessary to understand, as you build a software company. You can't go to the market now and say, 'I've got a software package that will take a year to install.' You need something that will install very quickly and update very easily. "

SAD: Ray Lane comments on the new world of software and technology - and what it's main market (enterprise) need to be doing ... interesting read.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Avaya gives corporate IM a SIP of VoIP | CNET

Avaya gives corporate IM a SIP of VoIP | CNET "The maker of corporate telephone equipment recently began selling gear using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a standard supporting many popular Internet telephone, videophone and instant messaging services. As a result, Avaya's latest line of equipment provides IM features like 'presence,' which indicates whether a user is on the phone, what his or her future availability is, and the best way to contact the user, Avaya convergence strategist Lawrence Byrd said in a recent interview.
This is not your standard IM, by any means. The Avaya gear, for instance, lets someone make calls to landline phones from any Internet-enabled laptop or personal digital assistant or dial a phone number listed on a Web site simply by clicking on it. 'Someone can be using IM to reach someone, then turning that text chat into a phone conversation, then conferencing-in an associate tracked down using a presence feature to join in on the conference call,' Byrd said."
But the high price tag for corporate SIP-based services is a problem, analysts say. Avaya, for example, is charging corporations a one-time $25 per user fee for its Converged Communications Server software, $6,100 for a necessary server and $130 per user for a "softphone" for laptops or personal digital assistants. A 3,500 person company, then, would pay about $500,000 to give everyone SIP's capabilities, which could be too much for some companies to make the leap.

SAD: It's a great play, minus the pricing mismatch moving from HW to SW, and will accelerate an already excited market for presence-based services. The level of sophistication that will follow-on from here will be quite astounding. At one point, "collaboration" used to be about documents (email, discussion database, etc.) but now communication systems will be center stage for a while.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

RSA Keeps RFID Private

RSA Keeps RFID Private: "The blocker tag system is software-based and relies on technology developed by RSA researchers that prevents RFID readers from gathering data from other tags in their immediate vicinity. Without it, any RFID reader could query any tag, enabling retailers or other companies to read the tags on any merchandise a customer may be carrying.
Essentially, the blocker tag system works by tricking readers that all the possible RFID tags are present at a given time. Because RFID readers can communicate with only one tag at a time, when multiple tags reply to a single query, the reader detects a collision."
"The tag is just the first fruit of the approach we're taking to this," he said. "There's still a good amount of research to be done. We need security on the protocol, the readers and the back end, too. We need a full set of technologies on the table in order to know what's possible."

Elluminate, Heat Up Web-Conferencing Market

Elluminate, Heat Up Web-Conferencing Market: "Both companies are taking on Web conferencing leaders such as WebEx Communications Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which had acquired PlaceWare Inc. last year.
Elluminate, of Pompano Beach, Fla., renamed its Web conferencing software, formerly known as vClass, to Elluminate Live. The company comes to Web conferencing with an e-learning focus and strong academic customer base, but with the Version 5 release Elluminate is targeting corporate business by offering to buy out customers' contracts from competing Web conferencing offerings.
To grab customers from competitors, Elluminate is offering to provide free access for existing customers of competitors up to the length of time remaining in a contract, or a maximum of eight months, Arora said.
In its separate announcement, launched Conferencing. It allows users to add Web conferencing and telephone-based audio conferencing to through their hosted collaboration site so online meetings can be initiated on-demand, said Woburn, Mass.-based

The conferencing option is provided through partner Netspoke, a conferencing provider based in Woburn, Mass. It includes the sharing of presentations, files and applications as well as features for chat, question-and-answer sessions, polling and white boarding.

SAD: one should be careful of aggressive competitive pricing plays with MS squarely in the game...

VoIP to get a voice in Washington | CNET

VoIP to get a voice in Washington | CNET "As more phone conversations begin to flow through unregulated VoIP networks instead of the heavily taxed public switched telephone network, state governments stand to lose billions of dollars. Because Net telephony is not regulated, companies offering the service aren't subject to the vast tangle of taxes and regulations that govern the E911 emergency service and guarantee wiretapping access for police.
Members of the collation are AT&T, which plans to launch a VoIP telephone service in 100 markets, and current VoIP service providers ITXC Corporation, Level 3 Communications and MCI. Others are chipmaker Texas Instruments, and Microsoft, which plans to support videoconferencing, cheap Internet voice calls and complex message-management functions on its Microsoft Real Time Communications Server 2003."

SAD: The fact that anyone, including state governments, might lose significant revenues by not regulating VoIP is as good a reason as any to step up efforts to protect it from unnecessary regulation.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Can you super-size that for me?

1,000 Gigabytes Appease the Multimedia Glutton: " If hefty digital video files, thousands of MP3 songs and scads of JPEG images are crowding your computer's 30- or 40-gigabyte hard drive, you may want to ease the space crunch by supersizing your system with an external hard drive.
There are plenty of big drives that can add a few hundred gigabytes of extra space. And then there is the LaCie Bigger Disk hard drive, which holds a full terabyte - that's right, 1,000 gigabytes - of data."

SAD: In less years than one can imagine this will be cheap and the norm - the only question I have (even with today's HD capacities) is 'how do you back it up?'

Friday, February 20, 2004

Now Preening on the Coffee Table: The TiVo Remote Control

Now Preening on the Coffee Table: The TiVo Remote Control: " To most home viewers, remote controls may seem like ancillary sidekicks to the main attraction that is the television, DVD player or digital video recorder. Yet in some ways the remote has become the centerpiece of home entertainment: so many functions have been relegated to this slip of an object that if it is lost, you may find yourself unable to do so much as call up a menu for watching the movie you popped into the DVD player."
"They did a really good job," said Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, a technology consulting firm in Fremont, Calif. Mr. Nielsen called the oversize yellow pause button in the middle of the remote "the most beautiful pause button I've ever seen."

SAD: The 'ten foot UI' -- one of the big challenges of blending interactivity into the home media experience. As more services are blended into the media consumption process, the fight will no longer be for the desktop (as is on PCs) but for a button or two on the remote control. To any Ad-skipping TiVo user, the notion of watching TV without a remote in your hand is akin to driving a car without a steering wheel. Of all the interesting turf wars in the effort to control consumer consumption and mindshare, the remote control will be one of the more interesting ones. There are alternatives to deal with function creep, such as on-screen display, speech control, or touch-screen remote (a la Pronto) but for various reasons these don't come close in terms of ease-of-use nor hand-holding creature comfort to a TiVo remote control.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

IETF Closes in on Linking Geographic Info, Presence

IETF Closes in on Linking Geographic Info, Presence: "Now, figures in the Internet communications community are working to take presence to the next level by creating a framework for merging users' location data into their presence information. That's long been viewed as a logical add-on to the basic availability data now available in most implementations of presence.
Within the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Geographic Location/Privacy Working Group (also known as GEOPRIV) has taken up the task of walking the line between establishing a means of disseminating geographic data that is subject to the same sorts of privacy controls as presence is today.
GEOPRIV is close to finalizing on a recommendation -- a Request for Comments, in IETF parlance -- for just such a system. That draft recommendation, authored by Neustar's Jon Peterson and known officially as 'A Presence-based GEOPRIV Location Object Format,' is actually based on earlier work done in formulating the basic requirements for presence data -- the Presence Information Data Format (PIDF). "

Friday, February 06, 2004

For Better HDTV Displays, It's All About the Chip

For Better HDTV Displays, It's All About the Chip: "Another rear-projection technique uses D.L.P., or digital light processing, technology to create the image. The D.L.P. chip, made by Texas Instruments, measures less than one inch across diagonally and contains hundreds of thousands of tiny mirrors that pivot to allow more or less light and color to be reflected to the screen.
Another rear-projection technology, liquid crystal on silicon, or LCoS, shows promise, too. Like an L.C.D. chip, an LCoS chip uses liquid crystals to determine how much light reaches the viewer. But that light is reflected off the LCoS chip rather than passing through it. Built into the chip are aluminum plates that function as both electrodes and fixed mirrors."

SAD: Nice article to help demystify the technologies and explain the acronyms of home theatre technologies...

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Yahoo! News - 'CtrlAltDelete' Inventor Restarts Career

Yahoo! News - 'CtrlAltDelete' Inventor Restarts Career: "RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - David Bradley spent five minutes writing the computer code that has bailed out the world's PC users for decades.

The result was one of the most well-known key combinations around: CtrlAltDelete. It forces obstinate computers to restart when they will no longer follow other commands. Bradley, 55, is getting a new start of his own. He's retiring Friday after 28 1/2 years with IBM."
"At a 20-year celebration for the IBM PC, Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates (news - web sites) and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys.

"I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous," Bradley said.

Gates didn't laugh. The key combination also is used when software, such as Microsoft's Windows operating system, fails."

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Yahoo! News - The Long Goodbye for Lotus Notes

Yahoo! News - The Long Goodbye for Lotus Notes"Instead, when IT managers ask for guidance on what technology to bet on—Domino or WebSphere—they get a definitive "It depends" from Ken Bisconti, IBM vice president of messaging. Despite his affinity for Notes, Bisconti is well aware of the road map that Big Blue execs have spelled out: wrapping Domino constructs inside J2EE portlets and integrating the Notes legacy with its Sametime and QuickPlace real-time collaboration products. The native Notes data store will slowly fade away as WebSphere and DB2 take over by 2005."
"But don't count Notes out. Being dead has been good for the architecture that inspired the Web. As long as IBM keeps the porting path open—from those original Notes apps to Domino to Lotus Workplace portlets to a DB2 alternate store in Domino 7 to an Eclipse assembly tool in 2006—it keeps Global Services busy and profitable."

Monday, January 12, 2004

BW Online | January 7, 2004 | Intel Bets Big on the Digital Home

BW Online | January 7, 2004 | Intel Bets Big on the Digital Home: "Intel (INTC ) will create a $200 million Digital Home fund within its investing arm, Intel Capital, to support startups in the networked PCs and consumer-electronics market. Two years ago, it created a similar fund to support Wi-Fi technology, which allows for high-speed wireless network access. The fund's investments created a flurry of interest in Wi-Fi. Soon after, Intel came out with its own new chips that go into Wi-Fi-enabled laptops -- chips that ended 2003 as its hottest sellers. Indeed, Intel's involvement drastically sped up Wi-Fi's adoption and greatly expanded the market, say analysts.
Q: In what areas do you see an investment opportunity?
A: In five areas: One, technology that will make the PC more consumer-electronics friendly, offering better video and graphics processing, better audio capabilities. Second is improving networking capabilities, which would allow for this communication between devices within a home. Third is improving networking software. No. 4 is improving the technology behind content -- things that can print, code, or transcribe content so it can be adjusted for different devices. Last is improving tools that would allow developers to create products for this market."

SAD: part of Q&A with Scott Darling, vice-president for digital home and enterprise at Intel Capital

Fast Company | The Soul of a Sports Machine

Fast Company | The Soul of a Sports Machine: "On December 7, 1991, the De La Salle Spartans lost a football game, for the North Coast Section championship. The next season, they stopped losing -- period. No losses at all, nada, zilch. Since then, Coach Ladouceur has led his team to 11 straight unbeaten seasons: 138 victories, 0 defeats.
But leave the stats to the guys on ESPN. Ladouceur's accomplishment is best savored by those far removed from the halcyon days of high-school gridiron glory. Anyone sweating over the realities of running a business in today's environment will relish how this coach does it.
In other words, here is a model for all of those who are outmanned, underfunded, and outgunned -- which fits a lot of us these days. So pipe down and listen up, because you'll want to take a page from the Ladouceur playbook. You're getting a blueprint for, yes, a sports machine, but one with the soul of a great business."

SAD: Through my own experience I am convinced that you can achieve heroic results without a single hero on a team if you develop and nurture a teaming culture. This article offers useful perspectives on one man's approach...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Cable wiring seen as key to the digital home | CNET

Cable wiring seen as key to the digital home | CNET "The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) plans to formally announce its formation Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Founding members include networking giant Cisco Systems, cable provider Comcast, satellite provider EchoStar Communications, chipmaker Entropic Communications, retailer RadioShack and consumer electronics makers Panasonic, Motorola and Toshiba."
Coax cable isn't the only delivery method for such networking. Ethernet cabling, which is already used to wire most corporate networks, is one alternative. Wi-Fi, which allows users to connect devices wirelessly, is another. And then there is the existing power system, which sends data through household electrical wiring.

Each of these alternatives has its own challenges. Most homes are not wired for Ethernet, wireless networks have reliability issues and power systems have limited throughput.

SAD: The home network is a big problem no matter which side of the fence you fall on wrt home server or lots of inter-connected devices (with no central point of failure - my opinion on this later)

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

IMPlanet News Briefs

IM, Media Players Top Means for Internet Access : "A recent survey by Nielsen//NetRatings has found that instant messaging clients are one of the chief ways that Americans use Internet services.
According to the firm, 76 percent of active Internet users access the Internet using a non-browser-based Internet application. Topping the list is Windows Media Player, followed by AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger Servics. Real Networks' Real Player rounded out the top five.
In terms of active user reach, AOL Instant Messenger had a 20 percent share. NetRatings found that MSN Messenger Service had a 19 percent share, while Yahoo! Messenger Service reached 12 percent of active Internet users."

SAD: The last statistic is the more interesting when trying to distinguish the public IM leader -- given Microsoft bundling/tying MSN into Hotmail, passport, etc.; usage is a more interesting measurement than users for this purpose (assuming you have faith in the stats model)