Ning, Anywhere CD & Other Weekend Thoughts

Weekends… what are they good for? Two things – catching up on RSS reading and answering emails – which just seem to pile up during the week, especially in weeks when we are all busy with conferences. And it is also the time to take stock of all bits and pieces of news and information one has been able to gather.
And nothing helps with clearing your inbox like a nice fresh cup of tea. This week’s tea is Assam Golden Tips I picked up earlier this weekend from Lupica Tea in San Francisco. If you are a tea-nerd, this is the where you go to buy loose leaf tea, which by the way is the only civilized way to drink tea.
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Hey, who unplugged AT&T’s data network, what’s the impact to the iPhone?

Apple_iphone_adsFull disclosure: this is not a knock against the iPhone. Yes, it is an amazing device, so don’t roast me without reading to the end. 😉

Having said that: I was wondering how useful the iPhone is when you don’t have WiFi or EDGE and was going to write a post on it over the weekend. Sure you can view or listen to your stored media, take notes, edit contacts, etc….but since the iPhone platform is relegated to Safari-based apps for third-parties, what happens when you don’t have connectivity? I decided against writing the post because I felt that the situation of zero connectivity was very rare, say on an airplane or something. Today’s events changed my mind and cause me to ask the question again. And not just for the iPhone, I’m really talking about any Internet-based platform. In case you missed it, AT&T appears to have experienced a nationwide EDGE outage today.

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Be safe- don’t listen and walk

That’s the message coming from NYC Senator Carl Kruger who is supposedly readying legislature to ban the use of electronic devices like cell phones and MP3 players while crossing the street in NYC and other big cities in New York.  The proposed legislature is in response to a couple of pedestrian fatalities and no doubt would provide fodder for the family lawsuits against Apple as one of them was listening to an iPod at the time of the accident.

Listening to music in NYC– just say no.

(via engadget)

Dogster Gets Big Eyes

Dogster, the social network for dog owners, has raised $1 million in funding from a strong list of angel investors: Michael Parekh, Joshua Schachter, Adam Beguelin, Michael Tanne, Jim Young, Mike Jones, George Sarlo, Frank Caufield, Aydin Senkut, Robert Simon, Brad Feld, and Jeff Clavier. The two-and-a-half-year-old company is profitable based on $100,000 raised last May. It makes 95 percent of revenue from advertising and sponsorships and the rest from premium subscriptions.

With 250,000 registered users, and about a quarter of them very active on the site, Dogster CEO Ted Rheingold thinks he’s mastered the art of building social networks for adults. For example, Dogster orients itself around dogs, not people — with no requirement to share your name, your email address, or even your hometown. Some more tricks are to use lots of puns, and to be very careful about canine breed nomenclature and categorization. 🙂

What’s next? Lots more pets sites, says Rheingold (Catster has been live since August 2004). And why stop with pets? Other affinities and hobbies are on the way. “What we’ve cracked the nut on is how adults want to communicate online about what they’re passionate about,” he says. “There are a lot of things that aren’t Adult FriendFinder.” But being so specific is what’s kept Dogster from being lumped into the hypefest; branching out is a whole different ballgame.

TiVo & The Pop-Up Ads, Why?

In the early days of digital video recorders when folks like Michael Lewis would write tomes in praise of TiVo and its ability to skip ads. We seem to have come a full circle – now TiVo is experimenting with pop-up advertisements. Funny – how life turns out! The way I see it, TiVo is saying, well my ads are better than network ads. Perhaps – but to me, if you are charging $12.95 a month for the TiVo service, I feel, ads are intrusion into my time and space. I did not sign-up for that, and hence don’t want it.

Musing about this, I wondered if TiVo will be able to serve ads on the Comcast network? If no, then isn’t that service a better option for consumers. No device to buy, and no ads and a price point which eventually might be lower than what TiVo charges. I had suggested a premium strategy for TiVo. That idea won’t fly. This experiment runs the risk of antagonizing the TiVoted. Engadget says, they are still testing the ads, and it will be sometime before all users experience the misery. “One slightly mitigating factor: apparently you’re allowed to banish the ad by pressing the “Clear” button on your remote,” Engadget says.

PVRBlog is none too happy either and they write, “The way the ads appear now, it almost looks like your TiVo has been hacked by an outsider. TiVo’s UI and software engineers do some beautiful work, agonizing and testing each and every option, and customers are used to the friendly, eye-catching software, but this looks like something they were forbidden from working on.” There is more fear and loathing in TiVoLand. I think this might give alternatives, particularly Microsoft Media Center to gain traction with more independent minded folks. TiVo has to make decision, and soon: it has to either be an ad-delivery mechanism, or a service that makes television’s passivity more enjoyable. It cannot do both.

Mobile Do Not Call Hoax

CNET A hoax email prompted more than 9.5 million Americans to add their mobile numbers to the national Do Not Call list in last week alone, according to its governing agency the Federal Trade Commission.