MileBug: Expense Reporting for Mileage

For my day job, I do a fair amount of driving around town. For tax purposes, it’s really important that I track the miles I drive for work, and to do it right I need to record the odometer readings. In the past, I’ve used a simple written log book, but this last week I’ve been using a few trip log apps for the iPhone to see if I could make this whole process easier for myself.
The trip log that I liked best is MileBug from Izatt International. This is a nice little app that does a good job of making the process relatively painless. The biggest obstacle to using any app like this is the time required to enter the details for your trip. The simplest measure would be, “Does it take more or less time than it would to write it down on paper?” I think MileBug passes this critical litmus test.
You can track odometer readings for the start and end of each trip, and you can do so for multiple vehicles. MileBug lets you track trips by Business, Destination, and Purpose and set presets for each of those items for quick entry. You can setup reimbursement rates for each business if you need to track rates for the standard federal tax deduction for some trips and a corporate reimbursement that may have another rate for other trips. MileBug will automatically start the next trip from the last known odometer reading to save a little time. I appreciate how the odometer dials roll over, instead of just running from 0 to 9 like in some other apps. It makes it a little simpler to update your mileage when you roll past 9 on one or more of the digits.
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Justine Bateman’s FM78.tv Says TV Is Dead

It seems everybody in Hollywood is developing a web show these days, but their approaches provide a study in contrast.

Yesterday Chris and I visited Justine Bateman and her three partners at FM78.tv, a new production company focused exclusively on making content for the web. Armed with revolutionary fever and Bateman’s idea for a show about a family candy company, FM78.tv is currently working to make a top-notch, union-compliant, big-budget television show that’s TV quality but doesn’t live on TV.

The actress, Bateman, most recently of Desperate Housewives but most memorably of Family Ties, is the ringleader of a group that also includes writer and producer Jill Kushner (The Ellen DeGeneres Show), Peter Murrieta (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Alan Sereboff (Snowblind). The four met on the picket line during the recent writers’ strike and developed the Speechless pro-writer online video campaign.

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Vid-Biz: Open Market, Sharing, MyToons

Hollywood Studios Band Together for “Open Market;” initiative is a set of policy decisions and software and services framework to enable DRM interoperability. (TechCrunch)

New Research Looks at Online Video “Super Sharers;” Sharpe Partners reports that 75 percent of super sharers find ways to skip ads, and video isn’t about creative expression as much as it’s about sharing real life experiences. (MarketWatch)

CNET Gets a Redesign; videos are now embeddable!

MyToons Partners with Vuze; animation community to provide vintage animation channel for the BitTorrent video network. (release)

I-Rights to Distribute Do You Believe Me?; new online series from producers of Sofia’s Diary is about a 17-year old girl with recurring nightmares. (C21Media)

Nielsen: 114.5 Million TV Households for 2008 – 2009 Season; increase of 1.5 percent over last year. (release)

For Verizon, Wireless & Fiber Work

Verizon reported a mixed bag of earnings this morning: company’s wireless and broadband business are doing just fine, in fact better than most expected. The wireline business is well, becoming a bit of drag.
Verizon Wireless added 1.9 million net customers in the third quarter 2006, up 15.1% from the third quarter 2005, and now the company has a total of 56.7 million customers of which 54.6 million retail (non-wholesale) customers. The revenues for the wireless business were up 18.2% from third quarter 2005.
Broadband is where the company showed better than expected results. Analysts expected Verizon to add about 130,000 FiOS customers, the company added about 147,000 in the third quarter. Some analysts expected 55,000 video customers, VZ added 63,000.
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TalkPlus, VoIP 2.0 Startup raises $5.5 million

The good news is that VoIP has moved away from its PSTN-replacement phase to a more experimental phase, where start-ups are combining presence, personality management, unified messaging and mobility and coming up with new applications. The bad news is that none of them have hit a home run, yet. TalkPlus, a San Mateo, Calif., based start-up hopes it is the one to hit it out of the park.
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Sex, Drugs & Broadband

We have often lauded Free.fr, one of France’s broadband miracle companies for its efforts to spread broadband to the masses. Never did we think we would be posting this: Xavier Niel, the chief executive of Free’s parent company, Iliad, was recently handed a suspended jail sentence for embezzling funds from a sex shop that allegedly was a front for prostitution racket. The 39-year-old was fined $320,000 for embezzling 5000 euros per month in cash from the operation over a three year period.
While in France, Neuf Cegetel, the third largest broadband provider in France behind France Telecom and Free went public last week, with stock showing continued strength. The company is valued at around five billion euros. The company has also acquired AOL’s access business in France.

Zillow In Zrouble?

Zillow.com, the fast growing (at least in popularity) real estate appraisal mash-up service based in Seattle, has hit an air pocket. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) is complaining that the “Internet financial services and real estate provider Zillow.com is misleading consumers, real estate professionals and financial service providers in on-line home valuations.” They have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission which at this point is just a complaint, not an investigation. (Zillow president, Lloyd Frink gives his side of the story on the Zillow blog.)
The specific charges are:
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