Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tapping the Power of Podcasting

Every day companies strive to share their message whether it is a marketing messages or client and staff communications. “Rising above the noise” can be a real challenge. The Internet has made a huge difference in the way you market your services. And now, there’s yet another arrow to add to your marketing quiver: the relatively new medium, podcasting.

Podcasting is now an adopted phenomenon. Podcasting is the broadcasting of audio over the Internet specifically to be downloaded into and played from an MP3 or other audio player or on your computer. Apple's iPod is the most well-known audio player. Because these players tend to be highly portable, they provide a unique opportunity for anyone to listen to anything (including your audio message), anywhere, anytime.

Podcasting enables you to:
  • Reports on various statistics to your clients
  • Descriptions of new services
  • Create unique introductions of you and your company
  • Custom audio newsletters or articles within your newsletter
  • Weekly podcast “radio” shows that include phone interviews with guests
  • Create a custom relationship with your clients
  • Reach a far-flung workforce

Your voice can be a powerful marketing tool. Oral communication can be more expressive and compelling than mere words or images on a piece of paper or computer screen. Also, when clients and customers hear your podcast, they may be more likely to perceive you as an authority.

To effectively train and communicate with its 4,000 staff members, 800 reserve personnel, and nearly 20 divisions, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department found a great solution in podcasts. Unfortunately, it could take weeks for the department’s video staff to produce and deliver their podcasts in a variety of formats. Until, that is, Podcast Producer turned weeks of arduous production into mere hours of automated production.

Apple Podcast Producer

Podcast Producer enables you quickly create audio or video content and deliver it in several different formats.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Apple unleashes Genius Sidebar ... would you like fries with that?

Well done Apple ... but don't confuse the Genius sidebar with the Apple Genius Bar (technical support in Apple stores).

On Tuesday Steve Jobs unveiled their latest feature for iTunes. Genius.

Everyone know that Apple's agenda is to push more iTunes sales. Genius sidebar is the latest arsenal in their toolkit.

When you highlight a song, the Top Songs You're Missing feature tells you the most popular tracks by that artist that you don't own. This is obvious next step, but very clever. Then there are the recommended tracks from other artists. It's pretty slick, and may make money from people who are keen to extend their collections.

It will be interesting to see when Genius extends to movies and television shows. It would be great if it provided music fans with the tools to analyze how their music collection fits together. But it is still a step in the right direction.

Apple Genius Sidebar

I tried out Genius and it worked quite well with rock, but the service seems to stumble with older music including my indie, acid jazz and classical collections.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Melbourne's 10km Nike+ Human Race

OK tomorrow is the big race ... Im running in the Melbourne part of the million people run this weekend. Nike+ Human Race has already started around the world and right now the US, South America and Europe have finished their race and the results will soon be online. Our race is tomorrow morning.

So I decided to create a Google map of the course. Tomorrow I will have my running gadgets with me. My new polar watch RS800sd, heart monitor, pedometer and iPod Nano (RED). As part of the race gear we all recieved a RED Nike shirt with our number printed on the front and a digital nike tracker (that needs to be handed in when we finish the race).

I took my Polar watch for a test run of the course today, and it has some great features. Heart rate, running speed, distance, altitude and a whole lot more.

So on Sunday morning if you see a mass of people running in RED shirts ... then that is us.

View directions of the Nike+ Human Race

Update: The Nike banners are starting to go up and the finish line is up at Linlithgow Ave near the Botanical Gardens.

Just visited the Nike+ Human Race web site and it looks great - well done to the designers!

I also came across this cool promotion @ The Inspiration Room for the Faker at tomorrows event ...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ideas for my new iPhone

On Friday 11th July 2008 I put register with Optus to get my new iPhone and Wednesday the following week I got the call to say it was ready to pick up.

With the 3G iPhone available in more than 20 countries, it is no surprise that Apple has announced that it sold a million phones in the first three days of the product’s release—71 days faster than it took the original iPhone to reach the same number.

After using the iPhone for only a week, ideas for business applications are already start to flow. This phone is very intuitive to use.

my iPhone in one week ...

  • Made & receive more than 30 calls

  • Sent 37 SMS

  • Read 15 emails

  • Taken 10 photos

  • Browsed 8 web sites

  • Installed 3 applications:

    • Super Monkey Ball - $12.95

    • Lonely Planet - Mandarin Speaking - Free

    • Apple remote - Free

  • Added 5 cities to my timezone and my weather

  • Charged my phone once

The motion sensors have to be one of my favourite features. We have already joined as an iPhone & Facebook developers. Some this that does concern me is the reports already starting to come out about the performance of the AppStore.

The iPhone can be programmed by creating web pages that can be viewed on the device. This means you have to ensure your web apps work with the resolution of the screen and with the idiosyncrasies of its browser - Safari.

Acording to a post on ZDnet

Like the Opera-based internet browser on the Nintendo Wii, most developers will look at the iPhone as yet another high-volume consumer-oriented web platform for their pages and applications. As a first pass, it would be a good idea to ensure your apps don’t look like crap on the device. Then if you notice a lot of iPhone traffic or want to target it specifically for some other reason, you can use CSS and user agents to customize your presentation to your heart’s content.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Google Earth release (version 4.3)

OK, this was my 50th post yay. So I thought I would look at the new release of Google Earth. I have to say upfront this release looks great! With Google Sketchup integrated into Google Earth the feature set is amazing.

Initially I wasn't sure how to change camera angles. Duh, the navigation tools are in the upper right corner of the map. This release also seems quicker and more flowing than previous releases. The youTube video provides a great overview of new features.

For those who have not used Google Earth then I definitely recommend this release. Google Earth comes jam packed with some great new features including:

Light and Shadow

The new Sunlight feature is my favourite, where you can watch the sunrise and sunset from anywhere. Just move the time slider to watch dawn, dusk and shadows move across the Earth.

Street View

This one is great but only major locations have Street View images. Google Earth has received this feature that was available in Google Maps. Fly into panoramic images of select cities and take a 360 degree tour.

Photo-realistic Buildings

With Google Earth 4.3, see 3D buildings faster and in more cities than ever before. Now you can access hundreds of new buildings from the world's cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Orlando, Munich, Zurich, and dozens more.

Swoop Navigation

Fly seamlessly through the landscape with new navigation controls. Swoop from outer space to street level and leap from one building top to another. Use the look joystick to view buildings as if you were standing right in front of them.

Download Google Earth

- it is free! Simply follow the link.

Get essential software with Google Pack.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Apple Sydney launch goes crazy!

OK so I thought I would drop by and have to queue for a bit to see inside the new Apple store on George Street, Sydney. Instead I stopped across the road and looked into the 3 levels. The queue stretched along George Street up King Street and back down York Street. Apple was giving away bags tonight - but with the amount of hype and publicity in Sydney at the moment they probably didn't have to.

It is a pity that you can't see the amazing staircase from the street but the photos I have seen of them look amazing.

From this ...

Apple Store Sydney

To this ...

This is a cool photo on the Gizmodo website.

Apple Store Sydney

I am going to buy a new imac so I will try and stop by on the weekend, but with queues this long it may have to wait until next week.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Social Networks and Personal Information (Birthdays)

So last month I celebrated another birthday but this one was different!

Not including my new Canon EOS40D, the extraordinary thing was the amount of "Happy Birthday" wishes I received this year. In particular the amount from Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter.
This started a discussion with a wide variety of friends on what can facebook and social networks really do that is valuable!

Social Networks

Facebook makes it very easy to remember your friends birthdays - its right in front in a news feed. What is also intersting is the amount of friends that regularly log in to facebook.

Instant Messaging

More friends ping me on MSN + Yahoo Messengers.

Mobile Phone & SMS

Throughout the day my phone would ring with mates wishing me happy birthday - question: what do they use to remind them?


A few more send me an email wishing me happy birthday.

Face to Face

And then friends I over the week wished me happy birthday. Obviously they have my birthday in a calendar somewhere.

I know for a long time I tried to store my close friends birthdays in my phone and sync it with Outlook.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Media is now empowering us all

Every telelvision channel is now asking for more and more interaction from us via the internet. From every news channel asking for live reports to lifestyle programs asking for advise and feedback.

The Aurora Community Channel is asking us to create our own content to display on their DIY TV segments. The following youTube video is a promotion for the Aurora DIY TV.

Internet Empowerment

This follows on from my previous posts on the convergence of television with the internet. Aurora TV is the national community television channel on Foxtel and Austar.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Google announces new mobile phones advertising platform

Google image ads are now available to mobile advertisers, in particular those targeting US, Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and the UK.
Previously, only text-based Web ads were available but now both mobile advertisers and publishers can present branded messages to mobile users and have them appear as they would on a desktop. The image ads are keyword-targeted, priced on a CPC basis and must link to a mobile web page.

Google introduces mobile image ads

Alexandra Kenin, a Google Mobile product marketing manager said "For advertisers, mobile image ads serve as a branding tool and have shown to have good click-through rates".

Slow and costly device connections and small screens have kept a restricted the development of mobile advertising, but new opportunities arose when Apple’s iPhone was release proving what could be achieved.

You can find a samples and a demo on the Google mobile blog.
Crave recently posted ...
Apple's iPhone has shown what's possible. Increasingly widespread Wi-Fi makes it possible to bypass mobile-phone network operators. And initiatives such as Intel's Mobile Internet Device and Google's Android could lead to a new generation of devices.

During last week's conference call to discuss quarterly financial results, Google co-founder Sergey Brin was bullish about the opportunity to bring advertising to the mobile Web.

Although mobile advertising is not new, Google's renewed focus on this platform for mobile display ads is generating excitement in the community. There are many more mobile phones with mobile web capability than there are PCs worldwide. The task now is to get consumers and businesses using mobile web. The iPhone is helping to generate interest in this market.

Last year I posted about Google's Android operating system. Once mobile phones launch with Android as the OS - the mobile web will be is a single click away. You can see Google is lining up all its ventures for the mobile search market with the ability to include mobile ads with each search.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Digital and Mainstream Media Convergence

I was thinking it is probably too late to write about the convergence of mainstream and digital media in any way other than from a historical perspective. That is how fast the process is unfolding. Digital media has forever changed the way we look, listen and learn. How long will it be until the term Mainstream Media means digital media?

Recently I made some comments about the convergence of media in Australia.

In the short amount of time between the invention of the World Wide Web in 1990 and today, traditional, or mainstream media, has been turned upside down. Here are just a few examples.

  • You can watch television on the Internet and you can access the Internet on your television.

  • Record labels watch recording artists defect to the Internet to sell their music directly to fans, and fans listen to their favorite music on their MP3 players.

  • Threatened by the alarming increase in digital music delivery devices, broadcast radio stations are busy re-engineering so they can stream their shows and music to the Internet and MP3 players.

  • RSS news feeds and blogs have replaced newspapers in millions of homes around the world and now you can watch your television news show in your browser any time of the day or night.

Traditional media delivery mechanisms, such as the radio, newspaper, television and theatre screen, have been thoroughly changed by the digital revolution. The change is so great, in fact, that many media experts are predicting the demise of the traditional media, or at least the demise of their current format.

For example, digital cameras and film have transformed the cinema and never before have independent film producers been such a large part of the mainstream. And it is exactly the fact that Indies are becoming mainstream that illustrates my point that the convergence is not just beginning, it is nearly complete.

It is only a matter of time, a very short time, until a wireless Internet-connected device, most likely no bigger than an iPod™, will deliver all of the new mainstream media right to the palm of your hand.

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Google Analytics Features (Trends, Internal Search & Outbound Links)

I opened Google Analytics last week and was thrilled with the latest release. We can now highlight trends in website performance easily by clicking on the Month link. The Google Analytics team posted the announcement of a few new features

Google Analytics - Trend Graphs

Comparing daily and monthly graphs helps easily reveal trends on your website.

Daily View

Google Analytics Day View

Monthly View

Google Analytics

Google Analytics - emetrics

Another post by the GA team on emtrics reports that event tracking now enables the capturing of events out of the box. These event reports are available as separate reports compared to pageview reports.

Google Analytics - Custom Search

With the GA search tracking you can monitor what people search for on your site and where these searches take them. The google analytics team say that "Site Search reports show you the keywords and search refinement keywords people use, the pages from which people begin and end their searches. You can also see how search on your site affects site usage, conversion rates, and e-commerce activity."

Google Custom Search

If you have not included a Google Custom Search on your web site click here.

Google Analytics helps complete the information gap revealling what your visitors really want. For me this feature provides a tremendous bonus, as we can now see what our visitors are looking for when they come to our sites.

Google Analytics - Javascript Upgrade

In order to have these new features you will need to upgrade your Google tracking code throughout your entire site. The new tags will also enable outbound link tracking more easily. If you have problems with the upgrade, you can scan your implementation of the GA code by visiting SiteScan by EpikOne. I have used this site for one client implementation and it works very well. Google partnered with a EpikOne to help anyone diagnose any problems.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Apple iPhone release 3G bound for Australia and Spain

Rumours are abound all over the web regarding the new 3G iPhone. Even though we still have no idea when it will hit our shores, the rampant speculation about who will have the iPhone in Australia continues. Last week it was Telstra that was the favourite to have the iPhone in Australia, thanks to the news that Sensis is developing applications for the iPhone. This weeks it's Optus, because it appears parent company SingTel has the Singaporean distribution rights for the iPhone sewn up, according to ChannelNews Asia.

Last year LoopRumours said "Wireless technology company InterDigital announced that it signed a seven-year licensing agreement with Apple, Reuters reports.

The deal will provide wireless technology for Apple's iPhone and future mobile devices that the company might release.

'The deal covers various 2G and 3G cellular technologies encompassing bandwidth allocation, roaming and power efficiency controls, and most likely also includes some type of packet data coding and delivery,' analyst Michael Ciarmoli said

Wired recently posted rumours about Apples order for more than 10 million 3G handsets on top of an existing order for 10 million first-generation models, based on an analyst's anonymous source.

Chloe Lake recently posted an article on ...
IPHONE rumours are heating up again this week with reports Apple has ordered 10 million new 3G handsets to release in the next few months.
The reports suggest Australians may be amongst the first to receive the next-generation iPhone model later this year.

The founder of Digg a social news site, Kevin Rose, fuelled rumours this week by saying a "source" told him the 3G iPhone was due soon and would include video calling. Kevin Rose explains the "iPhone Pro" rumours ...

Spain, like Australia, missed out on the original iPhone release last year. If the Telefonica rumour is true, then Spain could be one of the first countries to receive the 3G iPhone.

Apple has scheduled an Australian iPhone release for 2008 but has not confirmed if this will involve the new 3G model.

Local networks Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone are all in hot contention to be the official iPhone carrier when it is released here.

Recent rumours from Singapore indicate that SingTel, the parent company of Optus, will release the iPhone in September. The carrier would not confirm or deny that it had signed an agreement with Apple, Channel News Asia reported.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

TiVo joins YouTube redistribution network

TiVo DVRs will soon be playing YouTube videos. TiVo announced that YouTube video access would be available on the company's latest TiVo HD and TiVo Series3 models later this year. On-screen access to YouTube videos joins a host of other Internet-delivered entertainment options on TiVo, including Amazon Unbox video rentals, Rhapsody's subscription music service, access to Photobucket and Picasa photo galleries, TiVoCast Web videos, podcasts, and Internet radio. While ancillary to TiVo's primary mission of recording and playing back TV shows, the inclusion of such Web-friendly features helps the company delineate its products from the wide range of free DVRs that are available from local cable operators.

Recently I posted about the Convergence of Digital Media and here. The Network Seven ownership of the Tivo brand in Australia makes this service very interesting.

As for YouTube, its appearance on TiVo may be the first of many new venues. The TiVo news was timed to coincide with YouTube's announcement that it's expanding its APIs to allow third parties more direct access to the service. YouTube is currently available on a number of home and mobile devices.

Some of these devices include:

  • the Apple TV

  • the Netgear Digital Entertainer HD--as well as any product with a full-function (Flash-enabled) Web browser

  • the Nintendo Wii

  • the Sony PlayStation 3

In the handheld devices include:

  • the iPhone

  • the Helio

  • the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet

Also, the new Skyfire browser promises to bring YouTube (and any other Flash video site) to a range of Windows Mobile phones.

I have both an Apple TV and a Playstation 3 both allow you to play YouTube videos these devices. Watching youtube on my LCD is awesome. You can even watch YouTube videos on your phone.

The latimes said ...
TiVo, which has more than 4 million subscribers, could make YouTube a television star.

YouTube has been a thorn in the side of traditional media ever since the video sharing website was created in 2005. Now owned by Google Inc., YouTube has faced criticism and legal trouble that it benefited from visitors copying TV shows and putting them on the site.

YouTube has also increased the fragmentation of where people, especially teenagers, get their entertainment, with many turning on their computers instead of TVs.

Note: This service will not work for older Series2 TiVos.
It will be interesting to see if TiVo will start filtering what content is available (considering there alliances with Broadcast Networks around the world).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Truth about usability (Apple, Google & your Company)

Apple Insider reports that "Google on Wednesday said it has seen 50 times more search requests coming from Apple iPhones than any other mobile handset -- a revelation so astonishing that the company originally suspected it had made an error culling its own data."

Using the internet on more traditional handhelds is pretty bad. Maybe this is the reason. Bruce from User>Driven posts
By putting a real browser and a usable input paradigm (in other words no more Blackberry 3 clicks for every 1 you'd normally have to make) in the iPhone, Apple has made the mobile net usable.

I found this on tumblr (created by Eric Burke)

Eric Schmidt Google CEO said
Google's architectural model around broadband and services and so forth plays very well to the powerful devices and services Apple is doing. We're a perfect back end to the problems that they're trying to solve. And they have very good judgment on user interface and people. They don't have this supercomputer I'm talking about, which is the data centers.

Did you know that on August 29, 2006 Apple® announced that Dr. Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, was elected to Apple’s board of directors.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Google’s New Offerings

I came across this great post by TechBytes at UseBytes summarising new offerings by Google.

1. Google Reader - many more countries and subscriber counts.

2. Google Contacts - secure contacts.

3. Google Calendar - now syncs with Microsoft Outlook calendar.

4. Google Analytics - Data sharing, Audio Ads & Benchmarking.

5. Google Search - search within site (aka teleporting).

Google Teleporting

Monday, March 03, 2008

News via Old Fashioned Means no longer king

Following on from my post of Convergence of Media a small study by Media/Zogby International highlights the trend away from old fashion news to the internet as a reliable source of non-biased journalism. The buzz going around the internet now is does this mean that news via old fashioned means is no longer king.

A study by Media/Zogby International in the US has found that
Internet is the top source of news for nearly half of Americans; Survey finds two-thirds dissatisfied with the quality of journalism

The survey found that nearly half of all people in the United States (48%) cite the internet as their primary source of news and information, compared to 29% for television, 11% for radio, and a dismal 10% for newspapers. There was an age difference at the lower end, with only 7% of people aged 18-29 getting news from newspapers, vs 17% of those 65 and older.

Reuters said that
Nearly half of the 1,979 people who responded to the survey said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, up from 40 percent just a year ago. Less than one third use television to get their news, while 11 percent turn to radio and 10 percent to newspapers.

In a TechCrunch post they said
The figures do suggest that some forms of offline news reporting may well be headed to the Deadpool over the next 5-10 years, at least in the United States. It will be a long and slow death, but as newspapers and radio slump into lower and lower single figures, it’s a given that the presence of both will shrink; we’re already seeing massive across the board downsizing now in print media.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Microsoft Email To Employees: The Yahoo Deal is Perfect For Us

There is still a lot of discussion around the behind the scenes jossling for the Microsoft Yahoo merger or acquisition. A recent post discussed the implications for Australian Media Landscape. TechCrunch have posted about the an internal Microsoft email, the topic - Why the Yahoo/Microsoft merger is a good thing.

Helping Microsoft is some of the world’s major advertisers. At the time that Microsoft’s move became public, Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, the number two marketing and advertising group worldwide, said that he believed a combined group would give Google some healthy competition.

Something of particular focus for us in Australia is what will happen to the Yahoo7 and NineMSN? A question and answer within the leaked email adds some light...

Q: How would we address the multiple brands and technologies within Live, MSN, and Yahoo!? Which brand would we keep?

A: Both Microsoft and Yahoo! have great brands and technologies. Yahoo! has a very strong consumer brand and we are committed to build on the Yahoo! brand as a major part of the combined products and services we deliver to customers. The Yahoo! brand is one of the reasons the combination of the two companies would create so much value. It is premature to say which aspects of the brands and technologies we would use in our combined offerings. As part of the integration planning effort, it is important that we enable a joint team of leaders from Microsoft and Yahoo! to make thoughtful decisions about brands and technologies. How we integrate Microsoft and Yahoo!’s brands, products, and services are the types of decisions that would be made during this integration planning process—by leaders from both companies—and implemented over time after the transaction closes.

An extract from the email ...

From: Kevin Johnson
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 12:48 PM
To: Platforms & Services Division
Subject: Update on Yahoo! Proposal

I want to provide all employees in the Platforms & Services Division with an update on our February 1 proposal to combine with Yahoo!, and answer a few common questions that have been asked.

As we’ve discussed, the online advertising industry is growing rapidly and is expected to be an $80B industry by 2010. We believe our proposal is a compelling one and that the combination of Yahoo! and Microsoft creates a more credible alternative to an increasingly dominant player in the advertising industry. We are committed to building great services for consumers while delivering great value to advertisers and publishers. We have been very thoughtful about this combination, and are excited about what our two companies can do together to collectively target growth opportunities in online services, search, and advertising.

It is important to remember that, while we have made what we believe to be a very compelling proposal for Yahoo! shareholders and employees, we do not have an agreement in place with Yahoo! at this time. While Yahoo!’s Board and management consider our proposal, let me share a perspective on the process going forward:

While Yahoo! has issued a press release rejecting our proposal, we continue to believe we have a full and fair proposal on the table. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with Yahoo!’s Board, management, shareholders, and employees on the value of this combination and its strategic and financial merits.

TechCrunch went on to comment that this email was written to be leaked to the public. Messages like "The industry needs a more compelling alternative in search and online advertising," and "we will dedicate significant rewards and compensation to Yahoo! and Microsoft employees" to retain key staff.

News Corp challenge for Yahoo

Back last year there were rumours that News Corp execs wanted to swap MySpace for Yahoo. The Time Online reports ...

News Corporation has discussed swapping MySpace, its internet social networking unit, with Yahoo! in return for a 30 per cent stake in the enlarged group.

The discussions remain tentative and could collapse after the departure of Terry Semel as Yahoo!’s chief executive and his replacement by Jerry Yang this week. Mr Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! and incoming chief executive, yesterday pledged to “dig in” to his new role, and acknowledged the difficult task he faces to arrest the decline in the internet portal’s shares.

News Corp, the parent company of The Times, is interested in a deal even if it means losing some control of MySpace because it would give the media group exposure to a far larger internet-based business.

Other News Corp digital assets, including the games network IGN, bought in 2005 for $650 million (£326 million), are also thought to have been offered to Yahoo!.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Silverlight, Astoria & Volta - Microsoft WEB Technologies

Microsoft is working on 3 new technologies that will take your web experience (both usability and development) to a new level. These technologies are:


Microsoft Silverlight
Several months ago, Microsoft inserted themselves into the RIA framework business - years after Adobe had considerable marketshare with Flash and against pretty scary odds - with the initial release of the Silverlight framework. Microsoft Silverlight is the online counterpart to the Microsoft .NET 3.0 Framework and a direct Adobe Flash/Flex competitor. Silverlight isn’t just animations in applets, far from it - it is a very serious development environment that takes desktop performance and flexibility and puts it on the web.
When Silverlight was first announced and PopFly, Microsoft's social network built to demonstrate and launch Silverlight, it became apparent the technical aspects of .NET and WPF.
But things are changing - large portions of Microsoft's website are undergoing a redesign featuring a Silverlight-powered interface - doing away with HTML.

For more information about Silverlight - click here.


delivers a set of patterns as well as a concrete infrastructure for creating and consuming data services using Web technologies. This article explores how modern data-centric Web applications and services are changing and the role Astoria can play in their new architectures.
Data is becoming increasingly available as a first-class element in the Web. The proliferation of new data-driven application types such as mashups clearly indicates that the broad availability of standalone data independent of any user interface is changing the way systems are built and the way data can be leveraged. Furthermore, technologies such as Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) and Microsoft Silverlight are introducing the need for mechanisms to exchange data independently from presentation information in order to support highly interactive user experiences.
Project Astoria provides architects and developers with a set of patterns for interacting with data services over HTTP using simple formats such as POX (Plain Old XML) and JavaScript Object Notation. Closely following the HTTP protocol results in excellent integration with the existing Web infrastructure, from authentication to proxies to caching. In addition to the patterns and formats, we provide a concrete implementation that can automatically surface an Entity Data Model schema or other data sources through the HTTP interface.
While the software infrastructure provided by Astoria can be a useful piece of the puzzle when building new Web applications and services, it is just one piece. Other elements in these applications need to be organized in a way that enables interaction with data across the Web.
In this article, I will discuss the architectural aspects that are impacted by modern approaches for Web-enabled application development, focusing on how data services integrate into the picture.

Microsoft Astoria

For more information about Astoria - click here.


technology is a developer toolset that enables you to build multi-tier web applications by applying familiar techniques and patterns.
The goal of Volta is to simplify the designing, building, deploying, testing, and debugging of distributed, multi-tier applications, while minimizing the amount of "new stuff" developers must learn. Volta leverages familiar, existing .NET compilers, tools, and libraries and extends them into the distributed realm.

After you have designed and built your application as a .NET client application, you then assign the portions of the application to run on the server and the client tiers late in the development process. The compiler creates cross-browser JavaScript for the client tier, web services for the server tier, and communication, serialization, synchronization, security, and other boilerplate code to tie the tiers together.
Developers can target either web browsers or the CLR as clients and Volta handles the complexities of tier-splitting for you. Volta comprises tools such as end-to-end profiling to make architectural refactoring and optimization simple and quick. In effect, Volta offers a best-effort experience in multiple environments without any changes to the application.

Most of the time, developers will create one of two models: Volta applications or Volta controls. An application is a self-contained program that executes on its own; a control is a group of UI elements that can be reused in other programs.

Microsoft Volta

For more information about Volta - click here.

Update: I have played with Silverlight and Volta, and will be trialling Astoria next week.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Microsoft / Yahoo Merger and implications for australian media

Yahoo Logo
The Microsoft $44.6Billion bid for Yahoo! may turn out to be one of the best acuisitions the industry will see for many years. The deal is by far the biggest in the media and technology sector since the $112 billion price for group America Online (AOL) in its unfortunate merger with media giant Time Warner.

MSN International vs Yahoo International

TechCrunch commented on the Australian implications ...
Outside of the United States gets more interesting as both Yahoo and Microsoft have co-ownership agreements in many international markets, for example Yahoo7 vs Ninemsn in Australia. Many of the existing partners are also commercial rivals in respective markets, causing issues for a combined Microsoft-Yahoo maintaining all existing partnerships. There may also be competition concerns in some markets as well.

It is widely anticipated that existing partnerships will be divested with a greater chance of maintaining Yahoo’s deals. This means that the Nine Networks dominance of the internet through their very clever deal with Microsoft forming Ninemsn may come to an end. Ninemsn was formed in 1996 after Microsoft failed in its first portal attempt - the short-lived, pre-internet "bulletin board" venture On Australia, in partnership with Telstra.

Back in October 2007, Australian IT reported on the shakeup at Yahoo in Australia. Australia is a surprisingly strong market for Microsoft, with its local joint venture NineMSN holding a 26% share of main ad buying marketplace (corporate buys), followed closely by News Corp and local media group Fairfax Digital, who operate well known sites including and a variety of ecommerce ventures.

The implication has large ramifications for Ninemsn - of interest would be how quickly Microsoft Yahoo would change the default browser settings to Yahoo7. Below is a chart showing the visitors for both Msn and Yahoo.

Yahoo vs Microsoft Visitors

Furthermore, the booming $1 billion online advertising market in Australia will be considerably reshaped if Microsoft's $49.6 billion bid for online media group Yahoo succeeds.

Update:Herald Sun has reported that the Seven and Nine networks could be working together on a combined WEB portal.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Australian Media Landscape

There is always something in the news about the Australian media landscape. This is a collection of Press, Magazine, Television, Internet, Radio and Outdoor companies. The Australian Government established the Australian Communications and Media Authority whose main roles are to regulate broadcasting, radiocommunications and telecommunications, and to represent Australian interests in international communications matters.

I have attended a few meetings with the Australian Media Federation. The Media Federation of Australia (MFA) was formed in 1997, their charter is to support advertising agencies that specialise in providing services including media research, strategic planning, media negotiation and placement.

Television (Terrestrial & Satellite)





These are the top sites based on Alexa, excluding sites already listed above.



Saturday, January 26, 2008

Zune digital sponsor of 2008 Winter X Games

Following on from my post about Experimental Zune commercials. In another attempt to catch the cool part of the music player market ... Zune announced it will be the exclusive Digital Media Sponsor at 2008 Winter X Games. This is the way
Microsoft will connect with consumers/action sports fans through interactive Zune experience.

Zune announced that it will be the exclusive digital media sponsor of the 2008 Winter X Games, the world's premier action sports event taking place January 24-27 in Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado. The sponsorship will give Zune a significant and visible onsite presence at the event and will include TV, online, and print advertising. Attendees will be able to visit the Zune village booth, where they can try new Zune wireless media players and take part in special giveaways and promotions.

Apparently, there will be 10 customised Burton snowboards featuring Zune original artwork. These have been created exclusively for the Winter X Games. Zune Originals gives individuals the option to customize their own Zune player with laser-engraved designs and personal text via an online store, where they can choose from a collection of artwork designed exclusively for Zune by 18 internationally recognised artists.

Zune’s presence will be further extended through integration into activities at the Burton/Monster house, which will serve as a venue for athlete product seeding along with photo and video opportunities.

M&C have made some comments here.

Commentary of Australian Media Convergence

Following on from my post on the convergence of media a number of Australian players and analyst have made some signficant comments.

Harold Mitchell of Media & Partners recently commented on the acquisition by Lachlan Murdhochs company Illyria launched a bid to buy half the 93rd biggest company listed in Australia Consolidated Media Holdings. Harold Mitchell said
this is a very clever move by both families - especially when the share price of CMH has gone down.

There is an announcement on the Illyria web site. It includes the following comment ...
Illyria's unique combination of experience in pay TV, broadcast and print media will provide the privatised Consolidated Media Holdings with new growth opportunities over the long term.

How times change, in 2006 Peter Cox in an interview on the ABC was talking about media ownership said
And the problem for the Government, says Peter Cox, is that Murdoch's News Limited and Packer's PBL have opposing objectives ... News Limited's now decided, gee, we actually want to do things that are not exactly the same as what Packer wants, and therefore they have a stalemate.

Lahclan Murdoch speaking to BusinessDay said
I'm only interested in running businesses I can add value to, so in order to pay the sort of premium we're paying for CMH — which is a 30% premium once you take the Seek shares out — I've got to be confident I can add value to justify that premium, and obviously I can add value most around the media assets.
He continued to say "This is going to be my focus over the years to come if we're successful."

A number of key players in the media market own the majority of new media in australia including realestate, jobs, car markets. One thing that can be said for worldwide media is that it is evolving very quickly at the moment.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Australian Media - Packer, Murdoch deal confirmed

Following up from my previous post on The Convergence of Media (Internet, Television, Press, Cinema, Outdoor), Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer have announced a $3.3 billion takeover of the media company, Consolidated Media Holdings. This would give each media baron a 50% stake.

The interesting thing not reported is the additional internet assets that come with this deal. It has been reported that Mr Murdoch would become the executive chairman of the new company. Lachlan Murdoch is poised to make a stunning return to the media industry in a $2 billion-plus deal to privatise James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings.

Media Spy reports ...
The deal is worth $3.3 billion, made up of an offer of $4.06 in cash for each share, as well as a percentage of shares in the recruitment firm Seek, taking the total offer to $4.80.

CMH currently owns a 25% stake in Foxtel, the Nine Network and in ACP magazines. Other media assets include:

  • Ticketek

  • nineMSN

  • carsales

  • myHome

  • skyNews

TechCrunch have also covered this story today.

Off Topic: My dad worked with Lachlan Murdoch for a couple of weeks at News Corp while he did his tour of duty around the business.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Convergence of Media (Internet, Television, Press, Cinema, Outdoor)

I have spent my entire career in Media (IT related of course)

Some of these companies include:

  • No. 1 broadcast television network in Australia

  • Advertising agencies in Australia, Asia, South Africa

  • Magazine publication company in Australia

  • No. 1 newspaper publisher in the world

  • Cinema companies in Australia and Asia

  • No. 1 Outdoor advertising company in Australia and New Zealand

Working with a large cross section of media and advertising has given me the opportunity to see media change from both a business perspective aswell as a technology perspective.

There is a lot of discussion about the future of television and its convergance with the internet. We have already seen all the major television networks convert to digital.

(Michael Arrington, TechCrunch) says “I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the signals NBC is giving to the market around their IPTV and social networking plans. Most of the other players have fallen into place - Fox with MySpace, CBS is in bed with YouTube, Viacom looks to be partnering with Tagworld, etc. Everyone except NBC is at least experimenting with online TV in other ways, too."

Even the largest Magazine Publication Group (ACP - part of the PBL Media Group) in Australia continue to acquire or develop new magazines and with each comes a new website.

Wikipedia says ...

Convergence of media occurs when multiple products come together to form one product with the advantages of all of them.

In Australia Network Seven (Television Network) has acquired a number of companies including Engin a VOIP company and more recently Unwired the largest unwired ISP and apart from their deal with Yahoo to create a new portal Yahoo7 they are working on a deal with Tivo.

My observation is:
As media companies (Google included) continue to acquire other media and internet companies - their very nature they will continue to forge new synergies between disparate organisations thereby fast tracking the convergence of this industry.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 milestone

Dean Hachamovitch reported
I’m delighted to tell you that on Wednesday, December 12, Internet Explorer correctly rendered the Acid2 page in IE8 standards mode.
Acid2 Test

Briefly: Acid2 is one test of how modern browsers work with some specific features across several different web standards.

Now that is excellent news.

You will laugh at the success of browsers have rendering Acid2.

This is a good attempt by Mozilla Firefox

Note: Acid2 is a test case designed by the Web Standards Project to identify web page rendering flaws in browsers and authoring tools.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The benefits of Business Intelligence

The Benefits of Business Intelligence

I am often asked what can Business Intelligence do for my business. So my response is ... Business Intelligence (BI) is both a management process as well as a collection of software applications and underlying technology that enables organisations to make better business decisions by exposing key metrics that drive the organisation.

Business Intelligence is sometimes confused with Competitive Intelligence but they are not the same concepts. This is true even though BI technology does give management a methodology for getting a better grasp on the internal and external forces that are driving their organisation as well as a way to measure their organisation’s performance against the performance of their competitors.

Properly used, BI systems assist management in developing a data-based decision making model that provides more consistent results when compared to non-BI methods. Organisations that have successfully implemented BI systems have better and timelier access to customer activities, marketplace trends, supply chain issues and a host of other key performance indicators (KPIs) that are not able to be easily measured in a non-BI environment.

The Technology Behind The Business Intelligence Process

All of the data that BI systems access comes from the organisation’s data warehouse which is a specially-designed database that stores integrated data from various sources from within the organisation.

Business intelligence analysts perform data mining, which is the process of analyzing the data in the data warehouse to uncover patterns and relationships, using specialised BI tools such as Microsoft BI, Oracle BI and Business Objects BI.

Because BI needs vary among business sectors, many BI tools are highly industry-specific. Even so, most BI tools provide a similar core suite of capabilities which include executive reporting tools and a management dashboard that aggregates data and provides a high-level view of the organisation from a BI perspective.

Many organisations employ BI strategies in order to support the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) success measurement program. Unlike traditional measurements which are solely financial-based, the BSC approach measures both the financial lagging indicators as well as well as a variety of future performance indicators which are called leading measures. The BSC approach works so well because it not only provides a means for analyzing financial indicators, it also provides a way to quantify an organisation's other value drivers including its learning and growth perspective, business process perspective and its customer perspective.

Companies such as Exxon/Mobile and Cigna Insurance credit their profitability and explosive growth to implementing a BI/BSC strategy that enabled them to precisely gauge their market opportunities and position their companies to become financial and performance leaders in their market niches.

Business Intelligence is a process that works for any size organisation that is dedicated to gaining a competitive edge and raise their visibility in a crowded marketplace.