Archive for August, 2008

Robocalls – Part II / Spy vs Spy – Part II

August 26th, 2008

I recently posted about annoying Robocalls that I’ve received. In response to them, I’ve changed my phone setting so that no one who hides their phone number can call me. But that hasn’t stopped the robocallers. I just received my 40th or so “second notice” about my auto-warranty. This time, I got some information. The caller is “NIC Reinecker” at 620-585-0104.

Unfortunately, I could not reach anyone at that number. However, I did google the number and this interesting site popped up. This a spy vs spy site that lets people like you and me coordinate our efforts to fight these evil telemarketers. You can type in the number or name from your caller ID, and find out what others have experienced and tried to do to respond.

In this case, however, the only gratification I got is knowing that I am not alone in this fight. As I posted earlier, we just don’t have the tools to fight back on this scourge yet.

1. technology , ,

Cognitive Surplus

August 25th, 2008

Here’s a provocative video. It received a warm reception at e-thePeople and nice discussion. Here’s how I described it on etp:

Where do you find the time to participate in e-thepeople? Clay Shirky suggests that e-thepeople, wikipedia and other participatory media find the time by tapping into the cognitive surplus, the 200 billion hours Americans spend watching TV each year in the US alone. He claims that people choose participation over consumption, when given the chance. What do you think:

Is participatory media a revolution or just a fad? Is your time on e-thepeople valuable or a waste of time?

Watch it here:

1. technology , ,

The future of campaigning?

August 16th, 2008

This guy raised $100k in a couple of days for his campaign for state representative in Kansas with 3000 donations of $8.34 or more. It’s a big inside tech joke, but it’s working. I don’t think that this particular gimmick can work too many times, but the nationalization of fundraising for local elections is clearly a trend on the rise.

1. technology, 2. politics

For the Obama supporters

August 16th, 2008

Polls are tied! Could Obama really lose the election?

August 15th, 2008

My neighbor asked me: “The polls show that McCain is now tied with Obama – could Obama really lose this election?”

No. Obama cannot lose the election.

Why? Two reasons. First, I believe the polls overstate McCain support because of how they estimate likely voters. They are greatly undercounting the new voters that will vote for Obama and they are overcounting the demoralized republican turnout. (For example, new voter registration greatly favors democrats.) Second, even these flawed polls will turn around once ads like this start airing:

Yeah, Republicans will not likely be very enthusiastic this fall. I think Obama has an insurmountable 10 point lead in the popular vote that will result in a Reaganesque electoral victory.


Uncategorized , , ,

“This is your second notice” — Robocalls on the rise

August 12th, 2008

On both my home phone, and now on my cell, I’ve been receiving warnings that my auto warranty may have expired. In fact, each one of these warnings is “my second notice.” The new form of spam–robocalls–may be much worse than its email cousin. Like email spam, robocalls abuse cheap communication technology to earn revenue with deceptive marketing tactics. Unlike email spam, robocalls try to get your immediate attention — which means that it is harder to have effective countermeasures.

Sadly, I expect that robocalls, fake voicemails and the like will be on the rise in the coming years.

1. technology

Seven lessons from YouTube

August 8th, 2008

Jawed Karim, a co-founder of YouTube and current Stanford student, gave an excellent talk about the lessons of youtube. (The talk is from 2006, but I just watched it today for the first time.) If you have ADD, skip to a little past 40 minutes and you can catch some video of despair after they launched but before youtube caught fire.

My takeaways:

1. Make something complex but useful into something easy
2. Mix enabling technologies and great user interface design to be successful
3. Marketing is hard, so lots of things fail before they succeed
– email to friends didn’t work
– craigslist postings didn’t work
– giving an ipod nano everyday helped a little bit at the start
4. In my opinion, embeding videos into other people sites was the key to youtube’s success. Then, video producers finally had a real incentive to host their videos at youtube
5. Virality is driven by a very low percentage of superhits
6. Hence, scale is important for continuous growth
7. I disagree with Jawed that the community features on youtube were/are critical to its success. Rather, they leverage myspace’s community features to get the word out

Anyway, check it out for yourself.

1. technology ,

Why cable companies limit upstream bandwidth

August 8th, 2008

series of tubesI have always cursed Comcast for limiting my upstream bandwidth. It takes so long to to upload pictures to smugmug, VoIP can get garbled, etc. So, today I have AT&T installing u-verse into my house so that I increase my upstream bandwidth by a factor of 20x or more. Yeah!

But for even longer than I have cursed Comcast, I have always wondered: why do they limit the upstream traffic? Well, now I am now enlightened. In short: Channel 2.

1. technology

iPhone = i am rich

August 8th, 2008

Here’s the ultimate status symbol: a red glowing ball for your iphone that costs $999.99! Yup, that’s what you get (and nothing else) when you buy the ‘i am rich’ application for the iPhone. And 8 people bought it before Steve Jobs yanked it from the app store. Curiosity + one-click purchasing can be very, very dangerous. Come on Steve- no sense of humor?

1. technology

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