I'm now blogging at MitchWagner.com. Join me there.
I'm now blogging at MitchWagner.com. Join me there.
One of Second Life's biggest problems, says CEO Philip Rosedale, is that it's not enough like an iPhone. From the moment you open the box on an iPhone, it's fun to use, and in playing, you learn how to use it. The whole process is pleasurable. Second Life is nothing like that, learning to use it is a long process, and painful for many people.
I talked with Rosedale three weeks ago, when he'd been back as CEO of Linden Lab for two months. Rosedale is founder and chairman of Linden Lab, the company that created and operates Second Life. He stepped down as CEO two years ago, and returns to find the company battered and troubled.
Rosedale spoke at the Second Life Community Convention this summer, in which he was widely reported as saying that Second Life is abandoning the enterprise and education market. But he told me he believes he was "misunderstood." The company intends to focus on the basics, on improving Second Life in ways that will be valuable to all users, consumers, business and educators. That's the essence of the "fast, easy, fun" campaign that Rosedale launched when he returned as CEO in June. "The real focus should be the basic capabilities that impact everyone," rather than targeting a particular vertical market, he said.
That's part of the reason why Linden Lab shut down the Second Life Enterprise program, an expensive version of Second Life designed for businesses. Rosedale described SLE as a great product, but premature. Second Life isn't ready for widespread business adoption, because too few people are using it. "We can't expect enterprise users, educators, or anyone to embrace a system requiring ten hours of time, and whose complex behaviors virtually require a Ph.D. to activate," Rosedale said.
Read the rest of my post at the Computerworld Tool Talk blog: Second Life should be more iPhone-like, says CEO Philip Rosedale
Sure, Google Android phones are open, offering unlimited options for customization. That's why they're better than the closed-off, proprietary, locked-down iPhone. Just ask any Android fan, they'll tell you. But that's just plain wrong.
Well, it's part-right. Android is open -- for the telecom vendor. They're free to modify and customize Android as they see fit. And they use that ability to lock users into their crapware and limited options, argues TechCrunch's M.G. Siegler in a post with the pungent title: "Android Is As Open As The Clenched Fist I’d Like To Punch The Carriers With."
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: The myth of Google Android "openness"
This past weekend, I wrote a post wondering if Android was surging in the U.S. market because Apple was letting it? The main thought was that by remaining exclusively tied to AT&T, Apple was driving some users to choose Android, which is available on all the U.S. carriers. In the post, I posed a question: if it’s not the iPhone/AT&T deal, why do you choose Android? Nearly 1,000 people responded, and a large percentage focused on the same idea: the idea of “openness.”
You’ll forgive me, but I have to say it: what a load of crap.
In theory, I’m right there with you. The thought of a truly open mobile operating system is very appealing. The problem is that in practice, that’s just simply not the reality of the situation. Maybe if Google had their way, the system would be truly open. But they don’t. Sadly, they have to deal with a very big roadblock: the carriers.
Google's Priority Inbox is a great step forward, making managing email a lot easier and more efficient. But there are huge tradeoffs.
Gmail Priority Inbox re-orders incoming messages in your inbox so the more important messages are at the top, with the rest of your email following. Google figures out what's most important by giving added priority to email from people you send a lot of email to, and analyzing your past history of reading and ignoring similar messages.
You can also "train" Priority Inbox by clicking a toggle to mark important email as unimportant, and vice-versa.
It works a lot like spam filters, combining statistical analysis with a training button, but instead of separating spam from legitimate mail, Priority Inbox is separating your urgent mail from everything else.
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Gmail Priority Inbox, 10 days later
Google Instant could be a revolution in Internet navigation. Or it could the 21st Century's Microsoft Clippy. Either way, it's fun to play with. Read on to find out how to get more from the latest from the wizards of Mountain View.
It's localized and personalized. The service weights results in favor of your search history, and searches that are local to you. For example, I live in San Diego, when I type "D" the first search that comes up is the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and "S" gets me "SDG&E," for San Diego Gas & Electric.
Type the Google alphabet. Typing "W" calls up weather as the first result. The whole list for me: Amazon, Bank of America, Craigslist, DMV (California Department of Motor Vehicles), Ebay, Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail, Ikea, Jeromes (a San Diego chain of furniture stores), Kaiser (for Kaiser Permanente), Lowes (the movie theater chain), MySpace, Netflix, Orbitz, Pandora, quotes, REI (outdoor gear retailer), SDG&E, Target (retailer), USPS (United States Postal Service), Verizon, Weather, Xbox.com, Yahoo, Zillow.
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: 8 Google Instant tips and impressions
But lack of iPhone support from Verizon is the bigger problem for Apple, according to a phone survey done in downtown Minneapolis by analyst firm Piper Jaffray.
The company surveyed 258 cell phone users in Minneapolis to gauge importance of antenna problems on iPhone 4 sales. "We found that the antenna issue has impacted the purchase of 20% of people who are aware of the iPhone 4 antenna issue," the analyst firm said in an email bulletin.
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Antennagate took big bite from iPhone sales, analysts say
Second Life founder Philip Rosedale, recently returned as CEO, is faced with the enormous task of rebuilding a battered community and business. I talked with Philip about his plans to turn the service around, which he describes in the new goals "fast, easy, and fun."
I met with Philip in Second Life about two weeks ago, our first conversation since he stepped aside as CEO of Linden Lab, the company that created and operates Second Life. During that time, he served as chairman.
I started our interview by confessing that I was extremely pessimistic about the game's future. He asked me why, and I laid out my concerns:
In the two years he was gone from the CEO position, enrollment was flat. This year, Second Life had 792,000 avatars log in two or more times in February, increasing to 824,000 in April, the month after Viewer 2.0 came out. But after that, the user base declined, to 794,000 in August.
Read the rest of my post at the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: "Fast, Easy, Fun" with Second Life founder Philip Rosedale
I appeared on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe, the Second Life talk show, to talk about the previous months of news about Second Life, including layoffs, the departure of CEO Mark Kingdon, return of founder Philip Rosedale to the position of CEO, and more. Watch it here:
Don continues to think that his upbringing as Dick Whitman is a horrible badge of shame, and if people knew about it, he would just dry up and blow away. But in fact, as we have seen, some people have found out about it: Bert Cooper, Pete Campbell, Conrad Hilton, and Anna Draper. Bert didn’t care, the revelation didn’t change Don’s relationship to Pete one bit, and it actually endeared Don to Hilton and Anna. Now we can add Betty to the short list of people who know Don Draper’s secret upbringing, and she’s completely unshocked by it. Nor should she be shocked; she also comes from a lower-class past.
Of course, Betty divorced Don after she learned his secret. But Betty’s a horrible little princess. And, besides, it wasn’t just Don’s past that was a problem, it was the fact that he kept this monumental secret, the last of many.
One of the great paradoxes of the show is that Don, the ad man who knows how to rewrite other people’s stories to put them in a romantic light, can’t seem to understand how to do the same thing for his own. He’s the bastard son of a two-bit whore, raised by his father and his father’s wife, dirt-poor yokels who treated him like garbage, and yet he made himself into a cosmopolitan New York ad man. That’s not something to be ashamed of, it could be part of the Don Draper legend. People would love that (just as we, the audience of the program, love it). And yet Don can’t see that.
Of course, if Don’s secret became public, there’d be the issue of desertion to deal with, as well as whatever they called “identity theft” in 1965. But lawyers, money, and publicists could solve those problems.
Two fights were central to the program: The Sonny Liston/Cassius Clay fight, and Don’s fistfight with Duck.
Karl Marx said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” The Liston/Clay fight wasn’t tragedy, but it was a great sports drama of its generation. Don Draper clearly identified with Liston, because he saw Clay as all flash and no substance. And both Liston and, later, Draper, went down.
Drunken, bragging, pathetic Duck is how Don Draper sees Cassius Clay. And yet Duck beat Don, “saying ‘Uncle’ in his puke-spattered shirt to the man he once so elegantly defeated at business,” as James Poniewozik says.
By the way, those were some awesome puke sound effects.
Of course Don was wrong about Cassius Clay, who turned out to be quite substantial indeed. I don’t think Duck will ever be anything more than a drunken joke.
Somebody on Twitter last night said the episode was wrong — Sonny Liston never fought Cassius Clay, he fought Muhammed Ali. I hope that person was joking, or being ironic.
The restaurant where Peggy was supposed to have her surprise party was “one of the most over-the-top and expensive restaurants the city has ever seen,” the Forum of the 12 Caesars, a well-known real life fancy restaurant of the day, now forgotten. A restaurateur opening a new eating place in 2010 Manhattan uncovered one of the Forum’s wall decorations while remodeling.
Charles Baum, [son of co-founder Joseph Baum], remembers it as the city’s first sophisticated theme restaurant. The waiters wore Roman-style jerkins; the wine buckets were centurion helmets. The menu featured such specialties as “Belgic Paté with Wild Boar, Sauce of Damascus Plums,” goose “Germanicus,” and “Pheasant of the Golden House on a Silver Shield of Gilded Plumage Roasted with an Exquisite Sauce.” Everything was oversized: the menus, the cutlery, the plates, the drinks, and even the food.
“My first time there I was having lunch with my father and James Beard,” said Charles Baum. “I was maybe 10 years old. At some point they determined that I should try my first oyster. These were the only oysters in history that required a knife and fork. [Indeed, they appeared on the menu thus: “The Oysters of Hercules, $1.65, which you with sword shall carve.”] I hoped they’d forget, but they didn’t. They watched as the mammoth thing went into my mouth. The second I lost their attention, the oyster rested comfortably in the napkin on my lap.”
It closed in 1975, victim of the recession.
This is the menu.. Note the prices — expensive in 1957, cheap in 2010.
Google Apps users are the Charlie Brown of Gmail. When gmail.com users get all the best new features, we Google Apps users peer into our Halloween bags and glumly proclaim, "I got a rock."
Yesterday, Gmail announced the ability to use Gmail chat to send and receive voice calls with phone numbers in the US and Canada. The service integrates with Google Voice, so you can give people your Google Voice number, and have incoming calls ring on Gmail chat, in addition to cell phones, landlines, and third-party VoIP services.
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Google Apps left out of voice chat update
Google plans to upgrade its Gmail service to allow Gmail users to dial phone numbers in the US and Canada, according to reports. If true, this would heat up competition with Skype to the boiling point.
The Gmail voice service would be launched from the Google Chat window on the lower left-hand side of the Gmail page, and allows users to place and receive calls with their contacts. The user interface strongly resembles the one used in Google Voice, according to CNET's Tom Krazit, who also provides screenshots of the new service.
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Google reportedly adding voice calling to Gmail
Keiko Takamura, a San Francisco indie rocker, raised some of the money to record her album by and built a following by playing concerts in Second Life. She uses a broad array of other social media to find listeners and sell her music.
Keiko and other indie musicians are worth watching by businesspeople as well as music fans. The music business model has been turned upside down by the Internet, and indie musicians are leaders at using the net to build new ways of finding customers. Their techniques are often applicable to traditional business.
"Which social media outlets do you find most effective?" I asked Keiko in an email interview.
Read the rest of my post on the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Rocker raises money for first album in Second Life
Jo describes me until 2000 or so, but increasingly my reading time is spent on the Internet nowadays. During the "sipping" times, when I would have read a few paragraphs of a book, I'm now more likely to hit Facebook or Twitter.I was chatting to a friend about A Suitable Boy and she mentioned that because it was so long she’d had trouble setting aside enough time to read it. It is long, but I hadn’t had that problem because I don’t think of reading as something I have to stop to do. I read in the interstices of my day. I feel I have to clear time to write—I need free time that’s also psychologically free time I write, if I have to go to the bank later that hangs over me and gets in the way. But I don’t feel like that about reading at all. I read all the time I’m not actively doing anything else—and even sometimes when I am.
Actually, I read all the time. I carry my book around with me and read on the bus, on the metro, or if I’m waiting for someone. If I’m going out, I check that I have enough to read to last me. I generally read one book at a time, but occasionally I’ll read a big heavy hardback at home and take a little light paperback out with me. If I’m really enjoying the hardback I’ll lug it along—I’ll always remember reading Anathem while going round Ikea with my mother-in-law.
The director of the Louisiana Poison Center is using an iPad to help manage patients poisoned by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, uses the $30 LogMeIn Ignition application on the iPad to log in remotely to his office PC, so he can use the center's data collection application to coordinate planning with the U.S. Health Department.
The Poison Center forwards every report of oil-related poisoning to the Health Department, to help coordinate reacting to geographic clusters, and get early warning of emerging trends. For example, the Health Department watches for increasing numbers of dermal or respiratory problems related to the oil spill.
With his iPad at his side, Ryan is able to log in to his desktop computer and forward the report of each individual case to the Health Department within 15 minutes of its coming in, around the clock and seven days a week, he said.
Read the rest of my post at the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: iPad assists poison control for BP oil spill victims
With Facebook rolling out its Places feature, what chance do other location-based services like Yelp, Foursquare, and Gowalla, have to survive?
Facebook launched its Places service with a lot of fanfare on Wednesday. Once it rolls out, which is happening today, Places will let you use your mobile phone's GPS to "check in" when you visit movie theaters, restaurants, and other locations. If you're familiar with Foursqare and Gowalla, it's a lot like that.
Facebook offers one clear advantage over the competition: Critical mass. With more than 500 million users around the world, chances are your friends are on Facebook, and they're not on competing location-based services. The competition works around that problem by integrating with Facebook and Twitter, where your friends actually are. But Facebook has a direct line to your social and professional circle.
Read the rest of my post at the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Will Facebook Places sweep the competition off the map?
Every summer, Wisconsin's Beloit College comes out with a list describing what the world looks like to incoming freshmen. This year's "Mindset List" shows the new young adults have swum in an ocean of digital and mobile technology all their lives.
13 of the 75 items on the list relate to tech. Start with #1: "Few in the class know how to write in cursive."
I expect this is because of the pervasiveness of computer and thumb keyboards in their lives. I was in the class of 1984; when I was growing up, the only place most kids touched a keyboard was in typing class. We wrote everything by hand until college, when we started using typewriters. But people today write everything with keyboards. Handwriting is a dying art.
"Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail." Speed isn't the whole issue. Brevity and the lack of control over your inbox are also problems with email. You can easily block annoying people on Facebook and Twitter, but any idiot or spammer can send you an email, and there's no easy way to prioritize the important messages from the trivia and junk. Also, email messages are more likely to be long and contain fancy formatting. In general, email is more likely to waste time.
But will the class of 2014 continue with their email-phobia as they age? Email is still the lingua franca of business, for the same reasons why young people avoid it. It's easier to write a long message in email than in other channels, easier to send attachments, easier to ignore email for a few hours and deal with all of it when you have time. When the class of 2014 has been in the workplace a few years, will they still eschew email? This trend toward young people avoiding email has been going on for years. Is the class of 2004 active on email now?
Read the rest of my post at the Computerworld Tool Talk Blog: Email's too old-school for the class of 2014
The most dramatic example of this kind of prediction is “Solution Unsatisfactory,” a story which Heinlein wrote in 1940, which predicted the Cold War before the U.S. was even in World War II, and before the Manhattan Project. In the story, the U.S. develops a nuclear weapon and, for a brief time, is the only nuclear power in the whole world. America knows that its enemies will get the weapon soon. That much actually happened in real life, five years later.
But the story of “Solution Unsatisfactory” takes a different turn than real-life events turned out. In “Solution Unsatisfactory,” the head of the nuclear weapons project overthrows the government of the U.S. and sets up a global, international dictatorship with monopoly control of the nuclear weapon. And that’s the unsatisfactory solution of the story—the narrator of the story, the head of the nuclear weapons project, and presumably Heinlein himself all hate this option, but see the only other alternative, a global nuclear war, to be worse.
Was Heinlein’s unsatisfactory solution a nightmare scenario which we blessedly avoided? Maybe. But instead, we got 40 years of Cold War, the U.S.S.R. dominating half the developed world, and the U.S. propping up nasty dictatorships in the other half. And just because the Cold War is over, the threat hasn’t gone away; nuclear weapons are still common, as are governments and organizations willing to use them.
Read the rest of my post on the Tor.com blog: Robert A. Heinlein’s technological prophecies