Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's the New iPhone! Wii!!!

All of this hoopla surrounding the iPhone has gotten to me. I can sense the palpable anticipation and am enthralled by the stories of lines forming up for when this product hits the market. Tomorrow will provide sustenance to the digital masses who seek the latest in wireless, Internet connected, video playing, life changing, song storing, date making, all fulfilling computing and media devices.

My fingers are trembling as I type.

And therefore, I am determined.....to go buy a Wii.

I've waited long enough, the lines should be shorter by now. I also here it is a lot of fun and a good family gaming system. More games available as well.

If you have one and love it, let me know.

If you manage to pick up an iPhone, I would also be very interested in what you think. Maybe I'll look into one for my birthday next year.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Tribute Becomes Viral Marketing

The band GuyzNite wrote a tribute song to Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) of the Die Hard series and then, after pirating some scenes from the earlier films, posted the music video of it online. Die Hard, the original, was just voted the best action movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly magazine. These guys must agree and they wrote a rock, almost punk, tune as their testament of love, complete with a repeated chorus of his rather coarse and still funny signature phrase "Yippee Ky Yay ***** *****".

Well, 20th Century Fox's legal department had it taken down. If they had thought it through, and actually watched the video, I doubt they would have. Someone did clue in however, and with the new Die Hard movie coming out, the marketing department got these guys some new footage and commissioned them to add a fourth verse to the song.

The new version has been viewed going on 100,000 times and will soon pass the 100,000 viewings of the older online version that stopped at "Die Hard With a Vengeance." If those were butts in seats of a theater, and at todays nearly 10 bucks a pop ticket prices, that video would have just missed the top ten in box office gross from last weekend, coming in above Spidey 3 and below Nancy Drew. (OK, that was a stretch but still kinda interesting).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Exit133 Hosting Candidate Forum

Electoral debates and public forums have had a place in the media for a long time. Newspapers gave editorial column space and endorsements. Radio had broadcast town halls and candidate speeches. Today television has become the go-to battleground for presentation of the candidates, their positions, their debates, their attack ads and the electoral returns.

Certainly we have seen more influence from the web in the form of mobilization and viral marketing. (most recently the Hillary camps Soprano spoof), but with tomorrow, the South Sound sees one of our most influential digital communities make its own offering to the voters.
Exit133 is hosting their first-ever candidate forum. Already a great stopping spot for Tacoma and Pierce County development, entertainment and information, this community driven forum, which has never been short on debate and discussion among its members and visitors, is a welcome Web 2.0 addition to the distribution of vital candidate information.
At 7 p.m. on June 21st, Exit133 and the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, at the Theatre on the Square will provide an opportunity to hear first-hand where the candidates stand and what they have planned for our city.
Moderated by Derek Young, it will be an informative evening. No doubt it will also be something to discuss and debate online for many weeks after.

Technology and Entrepreneurship Certificate

Starting this Fall, the Key Professional Development Center at the University of Washington, Tacoma will be offering a Technology and Entrepreneurship certificate. It is a nine month certificate program that will offer one course per quarter for three quarters for anyone in the community wishing to expand their knowledge of the web and to learn how technology fosters new business opportunities. Those participating will also earn Continuing Education Credits.

Two notes of interest in regards to the certificate that I would like to mention. First, I will be the one teaching the courses and second, I will be welcoming in folks from the South Sound to sit in with students from the University who will be taking those courses as well. I am looking forward to class discussion from the different perspectives and backgrounds of those taking part.

Obviously I will be blogging about it on occasion. Please note that although it has been approved, additional information and materials are still being developed.

The general description is as follows:

“This certificate prepares individuals and companies the background overview of world wide web infrastructures and solutions necessary to successfully navigate, utilize and leverage the internet for information, communications and business. Starting with a conversational introduction to the history and evolution of the online world, emphasis in on using real world analogies and experiences to recognize the opportunities that exist today and what new ones will evolve as new technologies are introduced. In the second course, a combination of a guest lecture series and information about starting an online business helps the student to understand the entrepreneurial potential of the web. Finally, in teams of four and five, students will put their ideas and understanding of the web into action on projects that are self designed to contribute back into the community in which they live and work.”

If you are interested, please contact me or the Key Professional Development Center at the University of Washington – Tacoma.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Google to Go....100 miles per gallon

I don't know how many dollars go into research and development of hybrid cars. This note off of www.hybridcars.com gives a clue.

"On Billions of Research and Development Dollars: "The American public has not seen a return on the substantial investment of tax dollars into auto efficiency R&D, and so it's difficult to say that the funds were well spent."

So I'm guessing billions.

Well add another 11 million to the pot. Google has given one million in research grants for hybrid vehicles that can go 70-100 miles to the gallon and offers up another ten million in dollars available to be distributed through grant submissions.

From the USATodays perspective, "Auto development is crushingly expensive, especially when it involves the kind of advanced battery and powertrain technology used in plug-in hybrids.", so does the little extra kick in make a difference.

I think so. Especially because it is targeted at entrepreneurs and inventors with a jones to advance the plug in potential, to hit the market that needs to drive less than 35 miles round trip in a day and that might even be able to provide a little kick back to the grid.

They won't be driven by market potential or confined by a corporate directive. They just need to solve the problem and advance a solution.

That doesn't mean I am betting against the well funded research, just that an enthusiasts approach may be the one to win out, and thanks to Google for giving that innovative engine a little jump start.

I wonder if the Kirkland campus of Google is taking part?

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Good to Go" and Track You Down With

The News Tribune today points out the record keeping that will go along with the Good to Go program. Twenty four cameras and a log record of your travel will be available for eight and one half years after the fact. A similar system in San Francisco has already been used in civil cases by attorneys who in one instance were able to refute location claims in a custody case.

In a way it is reminiscent of the scene in "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise's character is tracked by the marketing signs along the route he walks. Each sign is able to determine who he is and direct their advertising specifically to him. In "Enemy of the State" the idea is taken to the extreme, with the plot concept that no matter which direction Will Smith runs and hides, a rogue spy unit chasing him are able to trace his whereabouts.

Now aside from the retinal scans (Minority) and the multiple bugs (Enemy), the idea of data tracking for location purposes is basically the same concept. And in the case of Good to Go, I don't spend that much time worrying about it. Hey, they let us track the bridge expansion joint on its way from Idaho, so "quid pro quo" right?

I have my Good to Go transponder, and though the data is going to be collected every time I cross the bridge, I don't care. If that data were ever needed, I am willing to bet that it would be to my benefit as opposed to my detriment. Furthermore, if it is not going to be the Toll data, then it is going to be the stop light cameras, my cell phone records, my credit and debit card purchases or the in store security cameras.

Of course, when they try to embed the chip in my head, I'll probably take a pass on that.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Anne deMille Flood's Tacoma Drawings

I was walking through the Thursday Market on my way to a meeting at Moroccan Treasures when I spied a number of familiar pictures at one of the booths. It was Anne deMille Flood and she had her many color pencil drawings of Tacoma and the vicinity on display. I have always loved her drawings and I stopped to chat.

A couple points of interest in the conversation. Let me know if you agree or not. I asked her if she used much technology in the sales and distribution of her work. She said that she has a web site and uses paypal for ecommerce support, but for the most part, the web site serves its purpose mostly as an online brochure for her goods. In fact, when looking through the web site later on, I noticed that the bigger pieces and the framework could be purchased only after a phone or mail contact, whereas the smaller ones and the gift pieces like mugs could be purchased online. She mentioned that most people like to view the art up close and real before a buy.

On another note we talked about how artists make their livings. It is truly an accretive process. You can sell an item or two at first, but to gain the ongoing flow of revenue necessary to live off of it takes time. Like so many businesses, it is word of mouth, marketing, brand and repeat customers that create a healthy ongoing concern. The same goes for creative writers and book authors. It isn’t the first sale that makes the art your vocation, but a steady build of customers and volume of work to purchase from. That’s why series authors need that third book in mind before the first one is published.

After having stopped to look at her pieces so many times in the past, I finally picked up a couple, one of the University of Washington, Tacoma and the other of the Glass Museum as seen through the history museum arch. I was going to hang them in my office but my wife likes them so they may end up in one of the rooms in our house instead.

As for Anne, once she finished up with her booth at the market, she was heading up to Everett I believe, to finish out what to her was going to be a 14 hour day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Briefing on the Cybersecurity Excercise

A Military Affairs Committee meeting was held by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber entitled “An Update from Ft. Lewis”. Along with presentations from Col. Cynthia Murphy, Garrison Commander and Mark San Souci, Regional Liaison for Military Families, DoD-State Liaison Office, (who gave updates on the base and discussed Pay Day Lender laws respectively), I gave an update on the Cybersecurity Exercise that was conducted a little over a month ago.

Sponsored jointly by West Point, Fort Lewis and the University of Washington Tacoma, the day-long event brought in students from multiple locations where they were lead by Lt. Colonel Ron Dodge from USMA West Point through a series of cyber attack/defense exercises.

West Point gave the participants some preliminary materials to practice with so that the students who were invited would be familiar with the scenario. This way each team would have at least one member who was comfortable with the equipment.

The students brought the necessary ID and met to carpool in order to minimize the number of cars driven on to the base. When they arrived, they formed groups and were given a pod of workstations that comprised a small network. The networks had some security problems that each group had to discover and secure. After giving the groups some time to secure three high powered workstations and six monitors, the people from West Point started attacking.

Don McLane, lecturer at the Institute of Technology, was the organizer of the UWT contingent and deserves credit for how well the students did. He teaches TCSS 431 (Network Security) which covers “cryptographic methods including public and private key algorithms. It examines protocols that utilize such methods, such as secure email, digital signatures, authorization, e-voting, and electronic cash. The course includes a lab component for demonstration of security techniques such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and virtual private networks.”

He reports “Everyone learned…even me, so we’ll be better prepared next time.” And that “Fort Lewis provided an EXCEPTIONAL environment.”.

Also there was Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Director, Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC), University of Washington who said “Don did a great job..His group was given special mention for their success with the exercise. There were between 60-70 people there. Huge group."


Next time the exercise will be part of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, so Don intends to have an official team prepared for that. Given this years challenge was more difficult that the year before, the expectation is for the difficulty to be further increased yet again next year.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Armchair Space Flight

The image to the right is from the www.nasa.gov website.

“NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has found a patch of bright-toned soil so rich in silica that scientists propose water must have been involved in concentrating it.”

It was taken only last month. That is three and one half years after the mission began. What I remember most vividly about the early days of the mission were the pictures that the Rover began to send back. Would there be water? Would there be Furbies? What we got from the middle of a crater were pictures of red soil and rocks. And those pictures were fascinating. In particular I loved the 360 views that were provided.

In 1969, during the Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong took “"one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" onto the surface of the moon. It was monumental not only for the historical moment in space exploration, but for the pictures that were sent back. It is funny how there are still hoax theorists challenging the images.

Today, it’s like being on the mission itself. The NASA site is abundant with images, videos, interactive flash and information about not only the past, but the recent present and real time. Check out the mission clock on the Shuttle’s main page.

The shuttle Atlantis just launched on NASA’s most recent Space Station mission. Would you care to know watch’s happening today?

“The STS-117 and Expedition 15 crew members will put on their construction hats today to continue the assembly of the International Space Station. They will use the station’s robotic arm and conduct a spacewalk to attach and activate a new truss segment.”

The video will no doubt soon follow and it is there for you to enjoy.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Lots of Tacoma Love

People fall in love online all the time. Sometimes it is accidentally, by virtue of hanging out in the same virtual community. Sometimes it is deliberate, such as seeking that certain someone through a Match.com, Harmony.com or simply reigniting that high school flame through Classmates.com. Of course, the catch is that eventually they have to actually meet.

It turns out that there are also those who want you to fall in love with a city. And they want you to meet in person as soon as is possible. Want examples? Here are two.

As many south sound blogs have already featured, check out Daniel Blue and his ode to Tacoma on www.exit133.com. Public professions of love are the best type of romance.

Alongside comes the pronouncement of affection from Love Tacoma. Their website domain says it all. www.lovetacoma.com.

Not only do they love Tacoma, they want you to fall in love as well. Let’s call it “metrogamy”. On second thought, don’t. That’s what the metronatural folks would probably call it.

So what are they all about? Let’s ask. What are you all about?

“What We're All About
Discovering what's hot. We want you to see for yourself what makes Tacoma unbeatable. Love Tacoma's just making your life easier, offering you the happenings that you're after to catch up with friends and discover what's out there in our urban play place.”

So get out there and fall in love.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Creating a Virtual Space for Your Media Transfer

Some of the Internets application protocols are well known and used, such as email and http (the server engine behind the web). Others have been and are critical to the web but are not as visible as they used to be. Two examples are FTP (file transfer protocol) and NNTP (network news). Though these protocols are still and will continue to be vital, other internet applications with larger feature sets and therefore greater application toward providing solutions are taking the forefront.

Take local Tacoma software company Topia Technologies Skoot. Though the rudiments of large file transfers might be satisfied by an FTP server, there are too many limitations and vulnerabilities to provide a broad range of file sharing and transfer solutions. Skoot attempts to address these issues and more.

Sharing large files (like audio, video and high resolution photos) can be problematic. This is especially if you just want to share them with close family and friends, or if they are sensitive in nature. The internet and several sites such as YouTube, flicker and the like provide a great resource, but they don’t provide much in the way of exclusivity and protection.

If you are a graphics artist or work and film and video and you leverage the internet, you should be paying attention. Worried someone can come in and steal your work? In answer to that question, (and because it uses the work virtual, (I love that word)), here is a sample from Topia's Q and A on it.

“Q3. Can the members of my Skoot Workspaces get to the other files on my hard drive? A3. Absolutely not. Think of your SkootSpace as a virtual environment—because it’s virtual, people sharing any of the Skoot Workspaces within it cannot access anything you don’t want them to—and nothing other than your Skoot Workspaces. Others can only access files in a Skoot Workspace you invited them to join.”

In putting their solution into practice, Topia has introduced TroopSkoot as a solution for our troops, separated from their family and friends. As Topia puts it “The Skoot service lets them send photos, videos and other information they wish to share – securely and effortlessly. Skoot is their very own "Private Family Network.” Topia has gotten the attention of Congressman Adam Smith for their efforts, and he mentions them and the program in his technology update.

For another customer viewpoint, check out the article by Darrel Bowman, CEO of solutions provider AppTech written for the ChannelWeb network.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Cell Coverage in NE Tacoma

Erik over at www.erikemery.com is drooling over the upcoming iPhone. It does seem to provide quite a few features and looks pretty cool. I own a decent cell phone and use some of its non phone related features like games, text messaging and the camera. From what is coming up around the technology corner, we might believe that soon our cell phones will be making our breakfast and parking our cars. However this morning I took an online survey which gave me pause.

As I have mentioned before, I call online surveys “voluntary data entry”. Every time you or I fill one out there is that much more information about us available to a larger group of companies and people. And yet, I still will occasionally fill them out.

This morning before work I chose to spend five minutes of my life providing personal information to a survey being conducted off of an ESPN pop up solicitation. It was in regards to get streamed television to your cell phone, a service the Verizon is now touting.

I didn’t know it was Verizon when I started the survey, but it became clear after several questions what the purpose of the questions were. Would I be interested in switching to Verizon for this video service? The funny thing is that I have always LOVED Verizon for their clarity and coverage around the NW, but I don’t use them as my cell company. I have Cingular, which I listed as having a somewhat unfavorable opinion of, due to the overall quality of my connections through them.

But Verizon doesn’t provide coverage for my neighborhood in NE Tacoma. I have a hard time with any decent connection as soon as I near my home. It works great everywhere else I’ve tried and it has never dropped me in the past when I would drive up to Seattle. I even tried to switch back to them during a trial period, but no go for NE Taco.

I don’t know whether I would go for the streamed TV over the phone. I do like Cingular’s family plan, which I use. But when it comes down to it, it is about the phone calls. Everything else is just a bonus.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Commercials As Entertainment

Last week I mentioned Nielsen's new advertisement ratings, which are meant to capture just how many folks are sticking around to be sold Hondas, coca cola and iPods. Whatever the ratings figure, you can imagine that it will be a lower number than the program ratings are, and trickier to measure after that program has been recorded.

Quite frequently, and with growing numbers, the commercials are the entertainment themselves. It can be argued that the popular Pokemon cartoons my older kids used to watch were just half hour commercials, as can many of the Saturday morning fare. Now ABC is launching a half hour comedy based on the Geico ads featuring put upon cavemen offended by the slogan, "so easy a caveman can do it". I wonder if Geico is fronting any of the production costs? Will the Gecko make a guest appearance?

With the internet, commercial are often entertainment destinations for the kids. Where are the most flash games? Check out M&M's fun and games portion of their site, or just about any breakfast cereal aimed at children. Brands themselves are destination points for Barbie and Polly Pockets game players.


With more video being seamlessly added, the commercials are coming in from all sides. Thank goodness your TV can't switch channels for you. More than once I have inadvertently clicked on an ad that popped in from the side after an accidental roll over. (sounds like a car accident).

So get ready for product placement, sponsorship and entertainment not imagined since "The Truman Show". I don't mind it so much because I am aware of it. Just make sure that you teach your kids to spot it as well.

Here is an exchange you might hear in my home.

"What are you watching, sweetie?"
"A commercial."
"Can you tell me what they are trying to do?"
"They're trying to sell me something."
"Way to go, Kiddo."