Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The World's Fastest Dot-Com Fizzle

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Monday a company called Qtrax announced that they were launching a peer to peer music sharing network with deals in place with the recording companies where advertising shown in the client software would go to pay musicians and songwriters. In just a day the network failed to launch and the big music companies stated that while they had talked to Qtrax there were no deals in place.

If this announcement was an attempt to jump start stalled negotiations then Qtrax has just played it's final card. Vaporware announcements are risky at least. It is also rumoured that songs distributed on Qtrax will use Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format with DRM.

This already means that songs from Qtrax will not work with iPods, which if they are trying to launch an online music service, iPod compatibility is so very essential because of Apple's huge market share in the portable music player market. If most people can't use the songs that Qtrax is offering on their iPods, then Qtrax probably won't get getting very far trying to convince the recording industry to let Qtrax to distribute music for free.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Canadian ISP's Push Back Against Foreign Copyright Bullies

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In a rare show of unity, Canada's largest Internet service providers have announced a flat out rejection of the recently released report from the British based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) that Internet service providers should be mandated to block peer to peer network traffic. According to the IFPI report music sales fell another ten percent.

Rejecting this proposal isn't about condoning piracy, it's about preventing censorship. Just because a communications technology can be used for illegal purposes, crippling it is not the answer. Crimes can be committed using the telephone but nobody is calling for controls on who people can talk to and what they can talk about.

Parliament is about to debate and pass a new copyright law. If Foreign lobbying groups like the IFPI and the RIAA are allowed to push around the elected officials chosen by Canadians, it is you the Canadian Internet user that will be worse off.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Telus Mobility Considers Technology Change

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It's being reported that Canadian cell phone carrier, Telus Mobility is considering converting their current CDMA network over to GSM. This would make Telus only the second carrier to use GSM. This would effectively would end the GSM Monopoly that Rogers Wireless currently has. This would or should mean that travelers to Canada would pay cheaper roaming rates. With less than two years until the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Telus would have to move fast to get cash in on foreign athletes and media and the thousands of their cell phones.

The most conservative estimate of the cost of a network technology change is 500 million dollars, which would mean having to sign up a lot of new customers just to save money on carrier subsidized phones. Even though the newest cell phone come out on the market using GSM first 500 million is lot just to launch the iPhone in Canada.

Even though 500 million for what may seem a minimal benefit, there may seem to be a hidden motive to migrate, Using a competing technology would help make a take over of Telus unattractive to Bell, who was in merger discussions with Telus in 2007.

Dumping CDMA in favor of GSM is not unheard of, in recent years. Telstra, Australia's largest cell carrier made the change over in 2006, Brazil's Vivo and Reliance Communications in India are in the process of switching from CDMA to GSM.

GSM Cell phones are considered to be much more customer friendly because an unlocked GSM phone can be can be moved from carrier to carrier just by changing the sim card. Now that people can keep their phone numbers when change carriers, and for the first time since the days of Analog cellular people will be able to keep their phones again. Will the future be friendly? We'll see.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Guess Who's Claiming They're Getting Ripped Off By Internet Piracy

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After fueling the growth of Internet subscription rates in the 1990's, pornography industry executives are claiming that their bottom lines (pun intended) are being hurt by Internet piracy. Industry executives blame distribution of copyrighted porn on peer to peer networks and x-rated video sharing web sites, like you-tube for porn (call it you-boob if you will). What the porn executives aren't telling is that they are having trouble competing with all the home made porn on peer to peer networks and video sharing sites.

Like the mainstream entertainment industry, maybe the porn industry needs to take a look at it's own employees in production facilities that upload copyrighted porn. Chances are that if the latest high definition movies starring Ron Jeremy, Nina Hartley, or Jenna Jameson (I'm not buying an HDTV for that) are available online, they were uploaded from the Avid suite at the production facility.

Sure technology that is used to produce and distribute porn has improved, the porn is still the same, the same silicone bodies even the same non-plots and even the same music for over 25 years. Why shouldn't people download porn for free, they paid for it years ago.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Stock Fraud Spammer Indicted, Facing Serious Prison Time

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In the past year is has been virtually impossible to open your e-mail and not find dozens of spams promoting ridiculously cheap stocks with the promise that substantial profits are just around the corner. This is the classic pump and dump stock scam just using e-mail to promote worthless companies so that the scammer can sell their shares for a profit. Those who bought in are left holding the bag as they lose their investments.

One of those responsible for the pump and dump spam e-mails is now facing charges of stock fraud and violating the CAN-SPAM act. Alan Ralsky who has a long history as a spammer is facing 41 counts against him.

This shows that Spamming is not a victimless crime, that those who commit it cannot hide behind their computers. Even though billions of spams originate from server farms in Asia and South America and are routed through compromised computers in millions of homes and businesses the spammers will get caught. Everything they pitch is a scam in one way or another and that's why spammers have to be caught and brought to justice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Digital Prognostications for 2008

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Now that another year is here, what will the quickly evolving world of technology bring in 2008? Here's my attempt to gaze into the crystal ball and this is my theories of the trends in technology seen in the year to come.

1. Bands leave recording companies to distribute direct to fans

This past fall's experiment by the band Radiohead to let fans download their latest album and pay what ever they want shows that many bands hate the recording industry just as much as the fans to. There is an endless trail of bands and solo artists who may have a cult following who have been dropped by record labels due to poor sales. Even artists who sell well have at times have had tumultuous dealings with their labels. Now that online music stores like iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody now are available to use pretty much around the world. 2008 will be the year the year that artists that have been dropped or in dispute with their labels will make deals with the online music stores and sell tracks direct to the consumer.

2. WiMax deployment begins, Municipal WiFi dies a quiet death

WiMax a technology to delivery broadband wirelessly has been slow to get off the ground due to unavailability of radio frequency spectrum. With the FCC mandated abandonment of analog television broadcasting now on the horizon, the needed spectrum will be available very soon. Potential service providers are already getting ready to buy in. WiMax will finally provide those in areas underserved telcos and cable companies with a way to get high speed Internet. Small towns in these underserved areas are where the first Municipal WiFi projects started but projects in major cities have only been nothing more than taxpayer funded failures, City halls will have to start pulling the plugs soon with WiMax companies providing some much needed competition for the telcos and cable companies in well served urban areas.

3. Adoption of Windows Vista continues to flounder even after Service Pack 1 drops

It's little secret that a lot of people just have no interest in Windows Vista including a lot of corporate IT departments. Many people and companies simply state that Windows XP works just fine. Many also say that incompatible hardware and software are another reason for avoiding Windows Vista. To address many of the problems with Windows Vista Microsoft is planning to release the first service pack for Windows Vista in the first quarter of 2008. With computers getting faster and better in the past couple of years many people simply have no reason to upgrade their operating system or their entire computer. Microsoft needed a killer app to sell Windows Vista and they simply haven't found it, even with service pack 1 coming the killer app simply isn't there.

4. Dot-com bubble II

The stock price of Google has soared in the few years that it's been trading on the stock market. Social networking web sites are seen as the highly financed by venture capitalists that will be next to see IPO's that will launch the next generation Dot-com boom. While social networking web sites will provide opportunities to show people advertising customized previously unseen in any other web sites. It's still a business model where advertising is the sole source of revenue. It's not exactly a firm foundation worth investing in but hype will dominate and shares will be snapped up.

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