Saturday, February 28, 2009

IBM still diggs Metaverse

Earlier this week I wrote about Ian Hughes departure from IBM. So did half of the blogosphere. Sillicon Valley Insider also thought about what's next for IBM:

Earlier this week, we wondered if the departure of IBM's (IBM) "Metaverse Evangelist" means the company is scaling back its interest in virtual worlds and Second Life. We haven't heard much from the group in months, which only added to our speculation. IBM reps finally got back to us, and they let us know they're still in there

Read the full article here. The question however, is not if they still digg the metaverse, but if they still grog it.

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The business value of real networks

Today I came across an interesting video on Open Forum. In their series "Inside the Entrepreneurial Mind " bestselling author and thoughtleader Seth Godin made a few interesting remarks about Twitter and Facebook: "They're useless"
The particular video I'm referring to starts with a marketing guy asking what the benefit of networking is for business.
Seth's answer is pretty straightforward:

"The internet is a giant cocktail party of people swarming around, connecting as much as they can and keeping score...but one day you need to ask them to authorize a 100,000 dollar contract... it doesn't matter"

His conclusion:

"Networking is always important when it's real and it's always a useless distraction when it's fake"

Real value comes from real connections. No wonder why Twitter is still looking for a business model, other than just selling a person database and why would people value Facebook in the billions of dollars?

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Crowdsourced Innovation

Innovation is becoming more and more of a buzzword these days, sort of a magical formula to overcome global crisis. Long before the crisis though, the Dutch Government has launched an Innovation Platform that was to propose ideas on how to propel the Dutch economy and expertise. The first presentation of this platform is due on March 11th.

However, the Innovation Platform is Government appointed and merely takes suggestions into consideration, it does not let YOU contribute. To cure this, a group of citizens has started the "Burger Innovatie Initiatief" (Citizen Innovation Initiative), a crowdsourcing experiment at "Beleid 2.0" in which YOU, the expert, can contribute your ideas on how to change our society and economy to prepare it for the future.

It might be a little out of place on this blog, but the ideas may impact the Dutch technology sector so it's probably not too farfetched as a lot of my readers are thoughtleaders from the Dutch technology scene I'd really like to invite you to make it happen!

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Educational Shift Happens

This afternoon I was honored to give a masterclass at the Christian University of Applied Sciences in Ede, the CHE, on the future of Education. In this masterclass I gave an overview of new technology, such as virtual worlds and augmented reality and how it will change the future of education.

To most readers of this blog, Virtual Worlds aren't new anymore, but it was too the students, future teachers. To get into the right frameset I started off with the famous video "Did you know - Shift Happens" by Karl Fish. It's always a good teaser to get the imagination going.

I think it is very important to future teachers to know what new technology is out there. I used to be one. When I was teaching, they always told me my students could not focus for 1 hour and you had to temporize your classes. Same happens when you get to church. Sermons shouldn't last too long, because our attention span is too short. Well, that's bull...

Kids growing up in these days grow up being used to massive amounts of information, able to handle multiple information streams simultaneously. It is all about captivating them, challenging them and that is what often lacks in schools. Children stop learning when they get to school. Once back home they turn on their computers and start learning again, according to some studies. I think these researchers have a point. We can use the games of Neopets or whichever kidworld and use it in the classroom to teach mathematics. We can use Google Earth and Rome Reborn to teach Geography and History instead of using old maps. These are the media they are used to.

Finalising my masterclass I zoomed in on Augmented Reality. One of the things I brought with me was the freshly published English version of "Me the Media" by ViNT, Sogeti's research institute. It was so fresh that the book I brought with me was actually the first to leave the office. I drove upto the office to pick it up as it had just been deliverd by the publisher today. It has an extensive section on Augmented Reality and it was fun to live demonstrate the cool tricks.

Last video I included in the presentation was on the Future of Education, an Italian video on Augmented reality which really show the opportunities this technology has in education.

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WYP taking over the world

A virtual world from Germany is taking over the real world. What's Your Place (in short WYP) is not exactly a virtual world, but more of a mirror world, one that reflects our own space and time. It is not a replica of Berlin, like Twinity, but a Google Maps Mashup that lets members own and showcase their favorite places.

Yesterday I received the press anouncement that is released today. In Germany WYP has been up and running for more than a year, but today WYP has launched the English language version to target the global market.

People with an emotional attachment to any spot on the earth can now stake a virtual claim on it. Each place has its own URL and profile page („land register records“), and the land owner alone is entitled to edit that unique place profile. Hence, virtual land ownership is an exclusive way for expressing attachment to a place and to showcase that spot to the world. Editing means include picture upload, tagging, geo-marking, adding notes, or adding time stamps. As these features are embedded into a social community environment, other members will bookmark a parcel, comment on it, or even share their own pictures or related experiences with the land owner. More advanced community features include grouping places and inviting residents to a private area.

Membership to the community is free of charge, virtual land ownership comes at 9.95 USD an acre. Ownership is without time restriction and entails full reselling rights. All features bound to land ownership can be tested for free buy obtaining a “trial parcel”, which will be removed after 30 days. So far, over 25.000 acres have been sold. The entire world is for sale, the only exception being parts of the globe that Google Maps does not yet cover well. It is the philosophy of WhatsYourPlace that places must be absolutely unique, such that per place, there is only one owner worldwide. What sounds natural entails that English speaking users may see German content when visiting places owned by German members. We strongly believe that language diversity enhances the cosmopolitan aspect of WhatsYourPlace.

Full press release at the WYP website.

The two images I used in this blogpost come from the promotional folder, which explains a bit more about owning your virtual speck of land in WYP and other features. Especially the combination of Google Maps, Facebook functionality into a social world looks an interesting format.

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Dear IT Leadership: Please Lead

The twittersphere just tweeted an interesting blogpost to me, a cry for thoughtleadership and IT Governance by Reid Carlberg on the Model Metrics blog

Dear IT Leadership,

Today, your business needs you more than ever. The economy is weakening. Competition is intense.. You’ve helped it navigate technologies for years. But the business has immensely complex new challenges today. It needs your help to operate more efficiently. It needs your help to innovate in new ways.

In short – they need you to lead – but they need you to lead differently. They need you to lead them through radical change. What do I mean?

What does Reid Carlberg mean? Read the full article here.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Edge and Beyond: Predator on the loose

In the past three years or so, the world of Second Life, and probably half of the entire Metaverse have been propelled and fueled by the power of IBM. In Second Life they have had over fifty island for example which shone like a beacon to other companies. Half of the projects in the Metaverse seemed to have a blue streak to it. The Metaversal force of IBM was not the 6,000 strong community in Second Life, or the weight of the 300K employees worldwide or the assumed millions of dollars they brought in. All this time it has been the energy of a single supernova that's been feeding the edge IBM had in the Metaverse.

This supernova in the Metaverse is the 2008 Virtual World Innovation Award winner Ian Hughes , or better known as epredator. This digital predator has hunted virtual worlds by the score, grabbing the available technology, devouring it and has been an inspiration to many people out their. Last monday Ian left Big Blue after a tour of duty lasting 18 years in search of new territories and a new prey. Ian announced his resignation on the Eightbar blog.

Today is a day of mixed emotions. Today I resigned from IBM having been there for 18 years, 19 if you count my year out from university.In all that time I have worked with some great people, and felt a tremendous sense of belonging.

Its been quite a journey, both in technical education and in personal growth. It is the extent of that growth and the speed that has not always been kept up to pace with by the system that I worked within.

Not surprisingly, the predator has already set his teeth into a new project and launched Feeding Edge, a consultancy company which is "Taking a bite on new technology so you don't have to". I have no doubt that the immense drive, the sheer energy and enormous creativity of Ian will get the Feeding Edge up and running.

From this place, Ian, I wish you all the best.

One tip though, at IBM you had the weight of an immense company, with all its rules and regulations holding you back. Be carefull that, as you're on your own now, you don't rush out as an avalanche thundering through the metaverse at lightning speed without us keeping up.

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Virtual Banking (20) Westpac

I've been pretty extensive in blogging banks that immersed themselves into Second Life, but here's one I never noticed; Westpac.

The following article is grom Virtual Worlds News: UPDATED: Australian Bank Westpac Exits Second Life

In November 2007, the Australian bank Westpac had set up shop in Second Life for
internal use. According to a ZDNet article from the time citing then-CTO David Backley, IBM and Westpac had experimented (with positive results)with using the virtual world for centralised onboarding for staff from offices around the country. The National Business Review reports today, though, that the bank has cut the project in
spite of positive feedback. [Update at bottom]

It sounds like the results weren't enough. Backley joked that he's now GM of application development ("Read into that whatever you will") and said that returns weren't strong enough to support the project.

"Failures can become expensive. We do massive systems rollouts and we expect huge paybacks," he told the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum in Sydney.

I don't point this out to sound the death knell of Second Life as Valleywag has (earning it a link from the National Business Review) or any number of publications. I think it's silly to look at the departure of one project as the tipping point, especially since that one project was likely generating more money for IBM as a technology partner and consultant than Linden Lab through land sales in Second Life.

I think it is worth noting the reaction that companies like Westpac are having. For one, it entered Second Life long before Linden began to seriously refocus the virtual world to serve enterprise customers needs. For another, in the current economic climate everyone, possibly especially banks, is looking to cut costs.

Experimental efforts, which I think is what most organizations label virtual world projects, are attractive because they're a new option to save money, but there's an ever-increasing need to show ROI--and apparently enough of a return that you don't get demoted.

UPDATE: Metaverse Journal was also at the event where Westpac's efforts were discussed and has a much more positive takeaway than the National Business Review: Westpac regarded the effort as a project ahead of its time, but the costs of maintenance and implementation were too high and a key sponsor left the company, stalling momentum. The new insight here is less about corporate reactions to Second Life and more about the media's: fyi, there's still some bias against it.

To learn how to successfully take advantage of virtual worlds for business, come to the 3D Training, Learning and Collaboration conference taking place April 20-21, 2009, in Washington, DC.

Related Articles:

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Credit Crunch key to future of Social Networks

A variety of newsfeeds on different topics was poured onto me today, through various media. Snippets I picked up on the radio, television, conference calls at work, twitter feeds etcetera. The mashup my brain made led to an interesting thought (I think) on how the credit crunch and recession will affect social networking, for better or worse.

Primarily old media are pouring out negative news on the crisis, credit crunch effects and recession worldwide. I bet you can't get away from the news either. Most of my social networks barely mention it, except for the occasional twitter / friendfeed / blog rant of Scobleizer. Why don't they? Is it because they are all new start ups, dependant on Venture Capital and VC might be the first thing to save money on?

I think not. I'm beginning to think the credit crunch and social networks are totally incompatible entities. They just don't mix.

Business is going Social ?

Let's start with social networking. Throughout the day I've been working on collaboration platforms and how to implement social software inside companies. When you're working at a company which is 'considering' to go social, you know the hassle. It often fails as corporate structures are incompatible with the social networking way of life; not bound by corporate hyrarchy but organic. Corporations still have the idea to implement communities through a top-down decree.

One of the articles I read today which touches this subject is a report by McKinsey, titled "Six ways to make Web 2.0 work for companies" (Thanks to @AlexKaris). Another quote that triggered me was from the presentation by Cisco's CEO John Chambers at the MIT World. I found his speech at OpenZine in an article called "Business is Social"

John Chambers held this speech at the MIT World back in october last year.

At about 3.00 minutes into the video John says:

"And when you look at the future of companies, I think you are about to see the most fundamental change in businesses and governement on a global basis that you have ever seen, moving from command and control to collaboration and team work"

Will we see this change, or won't we see this change? Everybody is talking about it, but will it happen? In reflection today, the credit crunch will play a crucial role in this process.

The Anglo Saxon business Model

Switching to old school media, one of the stories I heard on the radio was a Dutchmen who lived in Japan talking about business models. The Asian businessmodel looked very similar to our Dutch "Rhineland" model, or negatively connotated "the polder model". He gave a few examples.

The example from Japan was the CEO of Japan Airlines who had to take drastic steps in his company. As a result, he himself took a huge payment cut and came to work by bus to give a good example to his employees. This relates to the attitude we have had for many years inside the Netherlands, where you expected your CEO to come to work by bycicle and have lunch with all his employees in the canteen, bringing the same ham and cheese sandwhiches from home as his employees did. In both these models, the company is the center of the attention. It is about stability, security. It is about the role the company has in a social environment, limited to its employees, or in a broader sense to the city or other communities.

This is very unlike the Anglo Saxon model in which the shareholder has become the center of attention, the model which originated in the United States and the UK. This model is about short term satisfaction and profits. During the 90's we, in the Netherlands, have adopted this model too, and CEO's get filthy rich. This model results in corporate leaders who take enormous risks to gain short term profits and shareholder approval.

Crunch to make or break Social Networks

Don't get me wrong, John Chambers is saying a lot of sensible things on how corporations should act during a recession, and how innovation is important during these troubled times. However, if we "are to see the most fundamental change in businesses and government" it will be the challenge to do so on a business model scale. Yes, there are companies out there -even in the United States - who are able to adapt to web 2.0, but the majority will fail due to the business models described above.

Worldwide, companies sense the need to go social again. They feel the need to do something with social networking in order to leverage the latent potential inside their companies, to gain a stronger commitment from their employees, to facilitate knowledge exchange or simply to boast about their tech-savvyness.

The Anglo Saxon business model focus on shareholders and short term profits might just be the key issue to the future of social networks. It blocks long term commitment to a community and it causes corporate leaders to cling to their position. Managers and CEO's are protecting their little kingdoms, their expertise, their budget and their staff to remain in control. This is corporate politics on the balance of power, fueled by hunger for a big bonus and shareholder approval. This is where the fundamental change has to start to really empower Business 2.0, to facilitate corporations going social and capitalize on the billions of dollars of VC funding which have been invested into social networking sites. This is where the fundamental change has to start to temper the recession and this is where the fundamental change has to start to create long lasting communities and receive employee commitment.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Oriental Dispatch:CYBER TOKKU(Cyber District)

MIC, The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, has announced to start "CYBER-TOKKU" (which means "CYBER DISTRICT"). 

This virtual space will be operated in a closed community with a real User's name, and will experiment things, for example, the impact & circumstances on freeing a copyright.

MIC is accepting a research topics for "CYBER-TOKKU".

1. Merging virtual net space and reality.
2. Communication of secret and Personal information.
3. Contents distribution.
4. IT use for public services field.

Research topics that are related to these are wanted. MIC is accepting Research topics until March 6.These results of experiments will be used for future law making and maintenances.

I don't know "CYBER-TOKKU" will be similar to "CRD - China Recreation District" or not. But I am carefully watching about what "CYBER-TOKKU" will be.

via Cnet Japan

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Google tracks Victorian Fires

Whereas part of Australia is really going down under in heavy rainfalls and floods, other parts have suffered immensely under strong winds and extremely high temperatures. The south eastern province of Victoria has been devastated by immense forest fires, which seem to go on and on. Fortunately the temperatures and wind have dropped a little, but firemen still can't control the infernos.

Yesterday a team from Google Australia made up a flash map of the area to track the fires. On the official Google Australia blog they write:

We've today pulled together a Flash Map, containing the latest up-to-date information about fire locations and their status from the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The Flash Map is updated in real-time from the CFA website via an RSS feed. We hope that it's of some use to people who may be affected, to emergency services personnel, and that it takes some load off other websites which are being inundated. The map certainly makes the scale of this disaster immediately apparent.

Update at 6:10pm Victoria time: To explain the map, the number in each marker shows the number of fires at the location. A green marker means the area is called "safe" by the CFA. Yellow means "controlled". Orange means "contained". Red means "going".

To view the map of the Victorian fires: here.

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9 yo programmes iPhone

It doesn't take rocketscience to programm for the iPhone. Almost everyone can do this, so it seems. One of the latest hypes in the Appstore is a neat little programme called "Doodle Kids", which is an application written by Lim Ding Wen, a nine year old from Singapore.

Doodle Kids is a neat little application which lets you (or your kids) fingerpaint on your iPhone. Ding Wen programmed it for his sisters, who like painting. Ding Wen has been inspired by his father Thye Chaen, who is also a programmer and blogger. On his blog Chean writes:

The goal of Virtual GS is to bring back the fun and excitement of Apple IIGS programming for all the young children, especially my son Ding Wen.

Well, it worked. On the blog you'll find a short article on the Doodle Kids programme and the code.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Google: Put your money where your health is

Creditcrunch or no, Google keeps unleashing new products by the day it seems. Better said perhaps, keeps adding new threads to its web to pull you in. Just today I came across an article on one of the top 10 Dutch weblogs, Hyped, and noticed an article on Google Health.

Together with IBM they've worked on integrating Google Health with lots of medical appliances. Late last year I blogged about Google tracking the flu worldwide, but now they're monitoring your heartbeat as well.

In demonstrations, IBM and Google fitted Wi-Fi radios to gadgets like heart rate monitors, blood pressure cuffs, scales and blood-sugar measurement meters, allowing the devices to communicate with a PC and feed real-time medical information directly into Google’s online records. [Forbes]

When looking at the service in itself, it could definately be added value to patients and help reduce cost in healthcare. The problem I have with this service is Google. The Mountain View corp is a technology firm and a commercial one at that, regardless of all their free services and open source thingies. Google is about making money and this money making machine is getting into our lives in a pretty scary way. They know everything about you and are able to connect everything together with all their services.

I blogged about this before (In a World...), and that was even before Google Health, their flu tracking and the privacy law violating Google Latitude I haven't gotten round to blog yet. One thing is clear though; Health will be one of the money making machines on the internet in the coming decade.

In the past months there has been a huge discussion in the Netherlands about the Government and the Healthcare industry implementing the EPD, the Electronic Patient Dossier, a system in which patient files are linked together. Especially the privacy of patients has been the volatile issue in this experiment. With Google Health this conversations is outdated, as Google -oblivious of privacy rulings - makes it work.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dutch Parliament wants age classification for online gaming

Gaming is fun, usually. Most of us gamers have our favorites we like to play, wheter it be racing, shootem ups, role playing or strategy. To me it's pretty obvious I play different games than my 4 year old daughter. She doesn't have the foggiest idea of how Civilisation V or Ceasar IV works, whereas I get bored with Dora the Explorer. But what if your child is 10, would you let it play World of Warcraft or Command and Conquer, or even bloodier games?

As with films (movies if you like), there is an age classification for games. This classification now has caused the largest political faction in the Dutch Parliament, the CDA, to inquire about age classification for internet games on several gaming portals. Member of Parliament Mirjam Sterk is convinced the government has a role to play in giving attention to this issue and has questioned minister André Rouvoet (Youth and Family) and minister Ronald Plasterk (Education, Culture and Science) according to Dutch newssite Emerce:

Parents must be able to see when a game is suited for children of various age groups. The member of parliament asks if there have been talks with the Dutch Institute for Classification of Audiovisual Media (Nicam) about the promotion of a European guide for internet games. The organisation My Child Online concluded earlier that gameportals should introduce an age classification for violent or harmful games. The foundation also concluded that gameportals often hold a lot of games which receive a Pan European Gam Information (PEGI) classification of 16+ without notifying the visitors.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

MySpace blocks sexoffenders

One of the largest social platforms, MySpace announced it has discovered and removed 90,000 sex offenders from its network. The number almost doubles the estimates MySpace made last year, according to the Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. They might be blocked, but where did they go?

MySpace is in the spotlight today because it revealed that 90,000 registered sex offenders have been kicked off its site in the past two years. But where did all of those sex offenders go? Some evidence suggests that a portion of them are now on Facebook.

The Techcrunch article cited above has a nice description of how MySpace detects sex offenders and what Facebook could learn. It also includes reactions from Facebook officials.

One of the possible avenues to explore, according to some, is that Social Networking sites block profiles of minors to older members. I'm not sure that solves the problem. We've seen reports of people lying about their age with several networking sites. It's easy to register with false information.

The problem is, we haven't got a certification authority on the web for websurfers. We've got certificates to prove the identity of websites, like those of VeriSign, but no one can vouch for the identity of surfers. This is, in my opinion, one of the priority issues to solve on the internet in the coming years.

One thing we need to be carefull about is what kind of information do we actually put up on the internet. We need to be more aware of our online Identity and our privacy. Especially youngsters should be carefull in using these sites and be taught and guided in using them. Parents need to get involved in what their kids are doing online. They have to show an interest in their kids online social life.

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iPhone number 1 Social brand 2008

Reblogged from: The iPhone Blog

The headline says it all, Virtue’s #1 Social Brand of 2008. Steve Jobs scored huge in general, not only with the iPhone at #1 (can’t get tired of typing that!) but Apple at #3 and iPod at #7 and Mac at #16. (Our best frenemies, the BlackBerry, show up at #20, along with Microsoft at #11, and Google, Nokia, and Palm… um… er… Is the list really complete?)

The Vitrue SMI calculates scores about the brand’s social conversations. We apply a series of algorithms to reflect the frequency of usage, the size of the social media environment, and the magnitude of the conversation. The result is a single numeric score for each brand: the Vitrue Social Media Index (SMI).

(via Macworld)

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Microsoft losing online battle

Microsoft is loosing the online battle. First and foremost, they're losing it to Google but (maybe a wee bit of a surprise), Apple is regaining authority on the web as well. A recent stat analysis by Net Applications showed that the Internet Explorer marketshare has dropped to an all time low of just (cough) 67,55% amongs the surfing crowd.

Most notable online competitor of course is the Mozilla Firefox, with a 21,53% market share. Take heed, Firefox is not the adversary from the old days, Netscape (which is down to a mere 0.57%), but a Google funded open source community thingy, which is rapidly reaching its end of life status. Chances are it will eventually be replaced with Google Chrome, which is up from nowt to 1.12%. As said in the introduction, Apple is slowly gaining weight again, with its popular iPhone and iPods, more and more people start the like the Apple way of life. In the last year, the Safari webbrowser increased it's market share from 5,82 to 8,29%.

Mind you, we're talking percentages here of web broswer users, so every percent counts for tens of millions of users. The image below is a summary of the first and last line of the Net Application results, showing the statistics for January 2008 (topline) and January 2009 (bottom line).

The upside of losing millions of customers

What we're looking at is a bunch of statistics, numbers and percentages. However, when you translate it, Microsoft has lost millions of customers on the online market in the past year. However, this loss may hold a bright spot for Microsoft in the European Union.

Microsoft and the European Union have been clashing heads over Microsoft's market dominance for years on end now. The EU has been investigating to see if the company has taken advantage of its position by offering the Internet Explorer as an integral feature of its Windows OS and deliberately straying away from internet standards making other browsers to work incorrectly.

Microsoft has noted that it's marketshare is going down and isn't as oblivious as it was before, hence there can be no talk of unfair competition.

Dominance or Survival?

Well, we've taken out a few million IE users, so what? Microsoft still is the preferred supplier to the vast majority of websurfers. What's the big deal?

The big deal is that we're seeing the first signs of Microsoft loosing the online battle, the war of the web. And they're loosing it to Google. I've written a few blogposts on this before (see referal list below) as I wrote that Microsoft desperately needs the cooperation with Yahoo to strengthen its online position.

More blogposts on Google, Microsoft & Yahoo:

Beware of Snakes dressed as Spiders

A lot of people I know are welcoming the downfall of Microsoft and Internet Explorer. Throughout the web we're familiar with the anti Microsoft campaigns, the Bill Gates parodies and we all cheer the efforts of the European Union to crack Microsoft's market position, but in the mean time, Google crawls its way to the top. Just earlier today I wrote how Google teamed up with Nasa to get Mars into Google Earth and in November I blogged the Google Flu tracker, which they'd developed in close cooperation with the government.

Whereas Microsoft seems to get the full load from Governments, they're actually helping Google to take over the position...

and worse.

More blogposts on Google's rising dominance:

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Flash Fit For iPhone

Last week Adobe and Apple announced they were collaborating on making Flash fit for iPhone. Over the years Flash has become the application to animate content on the web and is present at almost every computer and tons of handheld devices, yet it doesn't work on the iPhone.

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Adobe Systems Inc. faces a challenge in creating a version of its Flash video software for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen said.

“It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,” Narayen said today in a Bloomberg Television interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.”

Adobe’s Flash, used to view online video and animation, is installed on 98 percent of the world’s personal computers. While the software is on more than 800 million handsets, it isn’t available on the iPhone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last March that Flash runs too slowly for the iPhone, and a slimmed-down version, called Flash Lite, “isn’t capable enough to be used with the Web.”

Jobs called on Adobe to write a third version of Flash, in addition to the software already available for PCs and phones. [read full article]

What strikes me is that Narayen said it's up to Adobe to deliver. You'd say Flash runs everywhere except on the iPhone so it would be logical for Apple to be taking the lead here. In the handheld world, the iPhone still has a pretty modest market share, yet it has become such an important player that Adobe can't ignore.

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Google Earth 5 Beta Release

Google has just released version 5 of its sucessful Google Earth yesterday. New features include:
  • Historical imagery from around the globe
  • Ocean floor and surface data from marine experts
  • Simplified touring with audio and voice recording

Of course, Oceans are not new to Google Earth of course, it has always been a virtual replication of our own world . The old oceans were simply big blue expanses and a wee bit of low resolution shadings to make the suggestion of depth. Since yesterday, the new release has a much more detailed bathymetric map (which means ocean floor), which makes it possible for us to submerge and explore the deep blue seas.

While you're there you can explore thousands of data points including videos and images of ocean life, details on the best surf spots, logs of real ocean expeditions, and much more.

We were joined at the Academy by many of the dozens of ocean scientists and advocates who helped make this project a reality: friends from National Geographic, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the US Navy, Scripps Oceanography, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to name just a few. Above all, I would like to acknowledge the work of Dr. Sylvia Earle, who cornered me at a conference three years ago and told me that Google Earth was
great but that it wasn't finished (you can read more about that encounter on the Lat
Long blog
). As much as I hated to admit it, she was right. We on the Google Earth team had been working hard to build a rich 3D map of the world, but we had largely ignored the oceans — two thirds of the planet. Inspired by Sylvia, the team got to work. I hope you are as excited as I am to explore our new Ocean and all of the fascinating stories and images our partners have contributed.

A second interesting addition is Google Mars, which was created in cohoots with NASA. You can get to the 3D Map of the Red Planet by selecting "Mars" on the toolbar. It features high res imagery, 3D terrain, landing sites and more.

Read more on the official Google Blog.

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Hack your iPhone Apps

Hackers have succeeded to break the Apple copy protection for iPhone applications. This crack makes it possible to copy applications bought in the App Store and distribute them to other iPhones or iPod Touch.

The tool, Crackulous, scans installed applications and saves them as ipa-files. These files can be distributed to other devices through iTunes. Obviously, you'll need a jailbreaked iPhone to perform these feats.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Google blocks World Wide Web

Last saturday an error at Google led to blocking the entire World Wide Web. Well, not exactly, you could still surf directly to any site you wanted to, but every search result made through Google returned an error message reading "This site may harm your computer".

The error lasted about half an hour, but led to a lot of mishap. Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience explained what happened on the official Google blog:

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message "This site may harm your computer" if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

Here's the explanation.

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