Storage/Memory Card Tips

Not a day goes by when we hear about a new kind of storage technology and the increasing capacities of the flash memory cards. It is an area which is full of innovation, and where MooreÌs Law is in full effect.

The multimedia applications are driving the need for more storage. Operating systems such as Windows XP and OS-X incorporate significant multimedia advancements for their respective audiences, and are driving the need for more storage. If you’re just using the computer for word, excel, etc, you won’t have the need for much storage. But digital photography and digital video are new applications that are becoming mainstream and these apps require larger capacity drives, more RAM, more robust processors and hard drive space.

Given this is the holiday season, and most people are busy buying digital gifts, I decided to write a quick essay and tips on buying Flash Storage, with some help from my friends at Lexar Media, and Toshiba. Here is a breakdown of how much storage you may need for a particular device:

PDA: Here I think the best capacity is 256 MB for you can save a couple of Mp3-albums, documetns and email archives. This is one device where more is good. However, please don’t spend more than $100 on a memory card. the prices fall so quickly that you may be overcome with buyer’s remore.

Cellular Phones: It all depends on what is the end application for the storage. However if you have a smart phone which can take a SD card, then you can easily settle for 64 megabytes of storage, which is enough for some documents, backing up address book and calendar and keeping emails archived. If you have a camera phone then 64 MB is good enough to hold a lot of photos, which despite progress made in camera technology are still of poor quality and thus take up little space.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Mini SD, MS DUO, and RS-MMC are the form factors that are going in to cell phones. They are smaller in size than their larger cousins, and because of that, the capacities will never be as large, because there is less room to pack flash.

Digital Cameras: People should probably start with 64MB. However, we expect to see the cameras in cell phones increase in mega pixels before too long and the higher capacity cards for them will become standard. However my recommendation is that consumers should buy 128MB at the very least and opt for 256MB. Because the cameras have increased in quality, (i.e. Megapixels) 256 MB card is the best bet, for it is affordable and has enough capacity to keep the photo record of a family vacation.

Video Camera: These need tons of storage. So perhaps the best bet is the traditional tape or some cheaper medium. However, if you have a video camera with flash memory slot, then my advice is go for the biggest cards you can afford, but because you can never have too much storage. In other words its like you cannot be too rich or too thin.

As one word of caution, I think you should remember, that paying lots of money for say 512 MB or 1 GB card is not prudent. Wait for nine months, the capacity will double and the prices will fall. A 512 MB card next year could be going for $75 and a 1 GB card for about $125.

Link to camera capacity chart

Memory Cards Explained

Storage Tips for your PDA

All about Flash Memory Cards from PC World

Digital camera Buying Tips from Doc Searls

For VCs, Blogging is the Next New Thing

Wi-Fi is old news, and social networks are fully funded. So what’s next for Silicon Valley venture capitalists? How about Blogsphere? Expect a spate of announcements in coming months, and of course I have some juicy scoops here. Read on….

Silicon Valley venture capitalists believe in one thing – herd mentality. Never the ones to go out on a limb, they tend to flock for deals which others are doing. This herd mentality is what brought to us four online pet stores, half a dozen toy shops, and nearly three dozen wireless LAN switch makers. If Friendster was good investment for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, then Sequoia could not be left behind and invest in Linked-In. And if all the rumors I am hearing from Silicon Valley sources are correct, then the next new thing for the capitalist fools is web logging!

Which is not such a bad thing, after all there are many very smart people who I admire, who will get funding from some venture capitalist or the other. Call this trend Blogging For Dollars! (A couple of weeks ago, the November issue of Business 2.0 magazine hit the stands, and it featured a mini-profile on SixApart, a company co-founder by high school sweet hearts, Ben and Mena Trott, the power houses behind MoveableType software and the TypePad web log service. The story was titled, Blogging for Dollars.)

A lot has happened since then, and I have a couple of micro-scoops for you. My sources tell me that David Sifry’s Technorati is about to receive a substantial bit of funding, most likely from August Capital soon. No confirmation, and this could be a rumor of course! (And talking about rumors, Tribe.Net is also close to getting a big round of funding from one of the Valley big guns, though it has nothing to do blogging!) Elsewhere I have heard Scott Rafer, co-founder of Wi-Finder and newly appointed chief executive officer of FeedSter is beating down the bushes for funds and will get them shortly. His model of combining ad words with RSS feeds is an attractive business proposition. Chris Alden, the co-founder of the vintage Red Herring magazine is working on a start-up that will be a combination of blog-directory and a publication. (Details pending!)

Many start-ups have cropped up and are copying the hosted web logging business model of TypePad, and others are in the works. This market is getting fiercely competitive and over crowded. These are all interesting developments, and hopefully will help some of the blogging start-ups we love so dearly. (My big question is who are the people most likely to get funded next?) Having seen the blogging evolve from its early days, I find it amusing that venture capitalists have suddenly discovered this new trend. Herds! or Un-Smart Mobs!

While funding tool makers or service providers such as Six Apart and FeedSter makes sense, I am not so sanguine on the prospects of weblog-pubs etc. I think Nick Denton hits it right when he says this and this.

By the way Jason Calacanis thinks I hate him. And to that I say NOT!
Recommended reading
* Jason Calacanis
* Dawn of The Micro Pubs
* Return of the Boom time hype merchants
* Social Networking Companes Garner Venture Capital    

The Number Portability Tips for Consumers

With November 24, 2003, around the corner, it is time for all of to get to know more about the highly anticipated Wireless Local Number Portability (WLNP). WLNP will allow wireless subscribers to change service providers within a given location while retaining the same phone number. As such, WLNP will dramatically change the face of the wireless industry, having eliminated a major hurdle for consumers who desire to switch wireless providers. With our friends at Adventis and some other experts such as MyRatePlan.com, I have come up a short to-do list on number portability.

Here are some consumer tips:

* If you have no plans to switch, it is a great time to renegotiate your contracts and get better deals out of phone companies. As part of their plans to prevent consumers from switching, carriers are designing special promotions to retain existing customers like T-Mobile extending weekend minutes. Call them, find out the best plan and take advantage For your benefit I have put together the five best cell phone plans in the US.

* Sprint PCS recently announced plans to extend their nights and weekend plans which now start at 7 pm instead of 9 pm. But if you want these extra couple of hours, you pay an extra $5.ðBeware of this offer.

* Consumers will need to determine if they live in an area where WLNP will be available. Initial implementation of WLNP will only cover the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas; in all other locations, WLNP will be implemented by May 24, 2004.

* Switching is expensive. My advise is that if your contract is over then switching makes more sense now than later. Why because potential early termination charges and the cost of acquiring a new phone could offset benefits associated with migrating to a new service provider. Unless you have an unlocked GSM phone and are switching between Cingular, T-Mobile and AT&T, expect to spend at least $100 on handsets and switching costs. Do the math before you switch.

* Go to company/ carrier stores for switching. Trust me when I say that the guys at RadioShack, Best Buy and Staples are morons who donÌt know anything about switching right now.

* Adventis folks advise that if you are a user of data services, check with your new service provider regarding the availability of services that you have become accustomed to. Functionality and availability of data services, as well as the customer experience itself (e.g., transfer rates) varies considerably from carrier to carrier.

* Back-up your cell-phone contact list data to your computer by using a data sync cable or bluetooth connections otherwise you will spend an entire weekend punching in phone numbers.

* Expect problems when migrating your number. It is a complex thing to achieve and a mostly untested processes. Combine that with large volumes of customers wanting to port numbers will create a less than optimal WLNP experience, especially in the first few weeks.

* Expect to be without service for hours, if not longer. My advise is that use the post Christmas dinner lull to switch numbers, because by then phone companies would have worked out the kinks.

* Jan-Joost Rueb, founder of Numberportability.com, advises US cell phone users not to act too quickly because prices will drop and plans will be improved as more contracts expire. In the beginning, carriers will carefully watch how many customers switch when they can do so without losing their phone number.

* We anticipate that better deals will be introduced in the market around ChristmasÓ, says Rueb. ÏToday, the wireless carriers have done little to lower their rates, increase their service levels and eliminate their many surcharges. Soon, though, we expect the market to become a battlefield on which the consumer will be the winner.Ó

* Check these sites for regular updates: CellUpdate.com, Numberportability.com. WireFly.com and MyRatePlan.com. They will all help you switch and have some helpful tips. Of course I have this site which will keep you up-to-date on everything.

The Dawn of the MicroPubs

Please do not get confused by the headline – there are not musings about microbrews or pubs, though both are god’s beautiful creations. Nevertheless, I am ruminating about the rise of micro-publications. This past week, I had a chance to meet Kevin McKenzie, founder of JIWire, a combo wi-fi directory and Wi-Fi news site. It was a delightful meeting, and as we discussed the JIWire business model it came to me that we are seeing the dawn of micropublishing. (In case you were wondering why? Click here for the real reasons behind this tiny essay.)

JIWire, Gawker, Gizmodo, WiFiNetNews, PVRBlog, Always-On Network, and PaidContent are examples of these micro-publishing efforts. Close examination of these publications and you see the following common traits.

* Micro-pubs have a narrow and extreme focus on one niche category
* Micro-pub editor/founder is an expert in his chosen arena
* Micro-pubs use open source tools and a content management system like Moveable Type or pMachine.
* Micro-pubs all command very high CPM rates because of their narrow focus.
* Micro-pubs are more than just a blog, I.e. they have a mix of links and original reporting.
* Micro-pubs only work with a skeletal crew – add more people and the business model of these micro-pubs breaks down.

In short, micro-pub is a combination of old fashioned newsletter, blog and a directory service, managed by one to ten people.

This is a model which is sustainable and perhaps makes more sense than some of the idiotic models proposed by hype meisters of the dot-com era. (Ironically now that I think back, it was one of the conversations I had with Nick Denton, but then he is a doer and he managed to turn the talk into a growing business.) Weblogging as a business model has very few barriers to entry, and weblogs devoted to certain subjects can be easily replicated. However if an editor can mix this with original reporting and occasional scoops, then the micro-pubs have managed to create value that readers and industry insiders will pay attention to. WiFiNetNews, PaidContent and Gawker (with its exclusive Gawker Stalker) has managed to create value, and as a result have put distance between themselves and johnny-come-bloggedlys.

This is exactly what the JIWire team is striving to do. Kevin quit CNET earlier this year and decided to start JIWire. He roped in Glenn Fleishman of WiFiNetNews and put together a cracker jack team. McKenzie has raised $600,000 from friends and family and once corporate backer, CNET. (He is currently looking for another $1 million but feels that should be more than enough for JIWire to turn a profit.)

By roping in WiFiNetNews, JIWire managed to limit its content creation costs (and who could do a better job than Glenn) and built a directory service, a hot spot locater, that the company is now syndicating to the likes of USAToday, Intel, Yahoo and CNET. This allows the company to make money. In addition, it has become a one stop shop for all hot-spot operators to list their offerings. It is a very simple model which sans the excesses of the dot-com era could revive online publishing.

Our friend, Rafat Ali, who runs the PaidContent site is making money (more than he was making as a journalist) and his site also has similar offerings including some niche email newsletters. Always-On is beginning to get revenue traction, just like Gawker and Gizmodo.

There is one little similarity in the forementioned publications – they are all managed or run by journalists. What does that mean? It means (at least to me) that journalists can harness the power of web logging and build self-sustaining publications and be independent. Should I take the plunge? After all I have broadband log.com as part of my domain portfolio!

Om Malik

Glenn Fleishman weighs in with his views…

I couldn’t agree more with what you’re saying. A couple of additional points:

* Each of these sites started as either an experiment or a labor of love by one or two people. Nobody anticipated the success precisely. Nick Denton funding Pete at Gizmodo is the closest example of speculation based on the potential for it to turn into something. But even there, Nick found a fellow willing to be obsessed on the topic.

* The funding for the sites isn’t coming from subscribers: it’s coming from affiliate programs and advertising. So we have the motivation of bringing more bodies in, but we’re not selling services directly to our readers. Our readers support us just by showing up. Google AdSense turned Wi-Fi Networking News from a time sink that led to article assignments by publications into an actual
revenue generator.

* Google drives traffic to us. 45% of the traffic to Wi-Fi Networking comes from search engines (about 20% is unclassified and 25% people typing in the URL or coming from bookmarks). Google US is 66% of all search engine referrals and another few percentage points from all the other Google international sites.

(There’s a good article in Google flow…Google drives traffic in and then reaps a % of traffic out from the Google AdSense ads.)

* It takes a while to get the ball rolling. It was probably a year into Wi-Fi Networking News that I started to have an impact and a real regular readership. It was about that time that CEOs call me up to get my opinion, tell me they quote me, and cite entries back to me when I meet with them.

* The subject matter is niche, and often somewhat ignored by mainstream media. There’s no Wi-Fi magazine, and it took until the last year for publications in and out of the computer world to become as obsessed with it as they are now. Gizmodo is unique: there’s gadget coverage everywhere, but
nothing comprehensive. There’s no room for a million magazines on the newsstand any more and it costs $5 to $10M to launch a national one. It costs a couple hundred bucks to run a Movable Type blog for a year.

* Blog flow leads to expert status. We’re all being seen as experts partly because other people are giving us their Whuffie votes through links and references.

It’s a very interesting process. I still believe in editors and massive distribution, but there’s so much room for niches.

Also Read

Profile of Gawker Media

Republicans: Outsource Fund Raising to India

All this talk about outsourcing and how it is killing the US economy, well here is proof that it is not going away anytime soon. I would love to see what a conservative politician has to say about this. I just cannot understand why the Republicans have to outsource fund raising, after all most of their donors have offices on K-Street.

bq. HCL eServe, the business process outsourcing arm of the Shiv Nadar-promoted HCL Technologies, has bagged a project to undertake a fund-raising campaign for the US Republican Party over the telephone. This is the first time such a project has been handed out to a company outside the US. The market research and public relations companies engaged by the party usually undertake such projects. [ Business Standard ]

Snooping Finns

Whatever happened to the liberals in Scandinavia? Even the evil Baby Bells don’t resort to such tactics.

bq. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported that it has been investigating a case of electronic snooping in which officials at Sonera, the national telecom monopoly, monitored the business phones and e-mail of some of its employees in 2000 and 2001. [IEEE Spectrum]

Fly, Buy, Die!

With airlines industry in a slump; rising unemployment and political and socio-economic troubles dotting the planet, I thought it was time for me to take a look at some bargain flights to places that might come in handy for those amongst us contemplating suicide or other such dire actions.
Read More about Fly, Buy, Die!

USB-2-Go technology gets $$$$

ransdimension, a company that adds USB functionality to portable and non-PC devices such as personal digital assistants and Mp3 players is proving to be quite a draw for venture capitalists. The Irvine, California company recently received $6 million in Series C funding and can receive an additional $4 million by the time the Series C round closes.

Los Angeles-based GKM Ventures led the round, which included another new investor, Englewood, Colorado-based iSherpa Capital, along with existing investor Shelter Capital Partners, which led the company’s prior $13.0 Million Series B round. Series B investor Rolling Oaks Capital is also expected to participate. The funding news comes on the heels of TransDimension’s recent announcements of design wins with Qualcomm, ATI and Motorola for its USB On-The-Go (OTG) technology.

I have been keeping an eye on this little chip maker for sometime and so far it has met every single target it said it would strive to meet. One of the technology forces behind the company is David Murray of TransDimension, one of the original creators of USB. In an interview with EverythingUSB.com, he said, “Because it solves a basic problem (connectivity) in a “standard” way rather than a proprietary way. This means that mobile devices can connect to various peripherals that are not necessarily specially made for that mobile device.”