AP - February 28, 2006 - Wireless Carriers to block SMS content by Dan Burgin, Syndicated Blogimist
In a stunning move today, Verizon Wireless was joined by Sprint, Qwest, and Cingular in blocking specific SMS content. The words "potato" and "latke", or the combined form "potato latke" will no longer be allowed in any SMS messages, or will be severely throttled. No word yet if the Dan Quayle version "potatoe" will be allowed. Jon M. Becile, a Verizon Wireless representative was quoted on the topic, "Verizon Wireless intends to offer a new content service launching today, called Pcast, which is our proprietary Potato Latke recipe service. We believe there is a growing demand for this content, which we alone will provide on our networks - which after all, we own and you don't. Therefore any current subscribers using the words "potato" or "latke" will be blocked.
A similar statement from, Ann Archist at Qwest Mobile was issued. "Qwest is launching our LatkeChoice service today, at $1.99 per month for new subscribers, and $199.99 per month for current subscribers. As such, any links to Recipe.com/latke or similar latke sites, or to sites like www.idaho.gov.us will be throttled on the outstanding customer-focused Qwest Wireless network. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause as competitive potato and latke recipes will arrive at lower speeds than other recipes, with those SMS messages arriving as much as 3 hours late."
Further there was this from Mr M. Becile, "Verizon Wireless believes that our subscribers want only the highest quality potato latke recipes and Pcast is the highest quality service for accessing this content. Also, if any of the potato growers or latke makers in the US attempt to allow access to their potato or latke content through VerizonWireless SMS networks, we will block that content. At this time Verizon Wireless is not considering partnering with any of these providers, as we believe that is what our subscribers want." No word on the blogosphere rumor that Cingular is considering changing their name to "Cingularity" and their tagline to "our network, our content, deal with it."
On a related note, China has blocked access to all US potato and latke content. No word on whether Google will support this move and also block this content.
This article in Forbes really pisses me off. As if it weren't bad enough that broadband providers are making noise about charging tolls for giving subscribers access to online services like Google; now Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint are making a similar stink about potentially not allowing Sling Media's Mobile version to run on their EVDO networks. As John Wayne once said, "That's Ri-goddamn-diculous".
For those that are not familiar with SlingMedia's Slingbox, it works like this: You attach a Slingbox to your TV source (Cable, Satellite, or even a DVR like a TiVo) and to your broadband Internet connection (Cable, Satellite, or Corporate Network for that matter). The Slingbox then transmits your content (live with Cable or Satellite, or recorded on your DVR) to your PC loaded with the SlingPlayer. It's awesome, and allows true place-shifting (watching your content where ever you are), and with TiVo or similar device, your Slingbox enables place-shifting AND time-shifting as you watch DVR recorded shows on your SmartPhone (like the Treo 700W). This is a truly exciting development, and one that I eagerly await.
So here's the rub - if wireless carriers like Verizon and Cingular are going to even consider throttling Sling Players on their subscribers mobile devices I think it will cause a huge uproar. This is exactly the same asinine argument that broadband providers throw out at the notion of charging extra to allow their paying subscribers to access online services like Google. I already pay for my broadband access at more than $50/month (Comcast), and Google pays for their use of server farm in the form of huge access fees to their carriers (whomever they use). That means that broadband providers would be charging yet again for access and use of their networks. Ridiculous and we can't allow them to get away with it.
The same exact argument holds for wireless carriers, EVDO, and SlingPlayer Mobile. I already pay for my content to DirectTV at more than $80/month and to store it on my TiVo at $13/month (actually more since I own 3 TiVo's). I also already pay Verizon Wireless at more than $100/month for access to their network in the form of an unlimited data fee on their EVDO network. I don't give a rat's ass that Verizon Wireless has Vcast and wants to charge me to view content that I already pay to watch and record on my DirecTV and TiVo. I want to Sling it to my PC (on broadband I already pay for) and to my SmartPhone (on EVDO broadband I already pay for).
Actually, it's hard for me to see exactly how wireless carriers could block SlingPlayer easily. Each Slingbox comes from the end-users IP address, so IP address blocking is out. They'd have to block content type (MPEG 4 I think?) which seems difficult and indiscriminate. Also, why do they allow SmartVideo to serve up their video content, but make noise over SlingMedia? I pay for an account at SmartVideo today, but I will cancel when SlingPlayer Mobile comes out, so I know this SmartVideo works on my SmartPhone today.
What Verizon Wireless (and Cingular and Sprint) need to do is get to get their heads out of their posteriors, see that their arguments are asinine and aggressively partner with SlingMedia to offer this service to their subscribers.
These land grabs are fascinating to watch, but these carriers are not in the content business, and in the end they are going to lose this battle. If Cingular or Sprint partner with SlingMedia, I immediately become their customer and leave Verizon Wireless. After all, wireless providers are now virtually identical, and a commodity. They should concentrate on broadening their coverage, which still sucks considerably out here in Colorado, compete with other wireless carriers on core services, and leave content to other companies. I will never buy video content from Verizon Wireless, it's a stupid business model, one that is doomed to fail and nothing more than an interesting diversion while we wait for our media (which we already paid for) to come to us wherever we are. It's the only thing that makes any sense at all.
I'm sure this will get sorted out by the morning, and frankly I should've read it more carefully, but there appears to be some dispute over whether there actually is a patent issue as I blogged earlier. This is one of the weaknesses of the blogosphere, but nonetheless it's a weakness worth enduring for all the upside of blogs. Apparently this story was on Digg as well. Still, no matter what with this story, the patent office is absurd and should be limited when it comes to granting patents for technologies, IMHO.
The patent office should be shutdown - either that or they should be forbidden to offer patents for web technologies. Clearly the patent office is clueless when it comes to the granting of web patents.
Patents used to be a viable (and fair) thing to seek as an entrepreneur. They allowed "non-obvious" and unique innovation to be protected for the creator. For many years now the patent office has been run by imbeciles. Truly - technological idiots.
Today a patent was granted for AJAX . For non-geeks that's the use of "Asychronous Java and XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to make websites perform more like desktop (compiled) applications (like Word, Powerpoint, etc.). AJAX is an important development for web programming - and for fledgling start-ups. It would appear that the patent holder of what should be a completely open and free application development approach is going to "aggressively pursue protecting the patent". According to this blog post:
The patent–issued on Valentine’s Day–covers all rich-media technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over the Internet, according to the patent holders.
What a preposterous pain in the ass. This has got it end.
I don't know for sure what caused me to buy this thing - as I don't talk on the phone in the car that much, and when I do my headset works fine. It is a hassle to put it on, and this is my first bluetooth phone, so it's probably a bit of gadget-itis that's infected me.
In any case, I bought the Mr Handsfree Blue Vision for Treo 700w. Not sure why it would be specific to the Treo 700w, as it's just a Bluetooth speakerphone, and as such should work with any Bluetooth-enabled phone. It was pretty easy to setup and "pair" with my Treo. Almost immediately I got complaints from my callers though - as usual for speakerphones used in the car. You know the thing - people who can hear you just fine, but hate being on the speakerphone, so they say something like, "I can barely hear you." Ugh.
It's pretty neat how it automatically connects when you dial a number or when a call comes in, but if people keep complaining - even though I've listened to myself recording my voicemail message and it sounds fine - I am probably going to return it. Speakerphones in the car are one of those things that you want to work, but which in practice always disappoint - nothing new about Mr. Handsfree.
An amazing offer from Sun - as they do the hopeful blog viral marketing thing. Talk about put your money where your mouth is - they are offering a free Sun FireT2000 Server for 60 days of evaluation. If you write a thoughtful review, they might just let you keep it. Check out the details here.
Last month I purchased a new laptop. For several years I've been using a Dell C400 - a nice, light, travel laptop (approx 2.5 lbs). It was a one spindle machine (1 spindle=hard drive, 2 spindles=hard drive + CD/DVD drive, 3 spindles=hard drive + CD/DVD drive + floppy drive), so it came with a removable CD/DVD. I don't find this too bothersome, as I don't need the CD/DVD very often, especially when on the road. I liked the C400, but I left my company and needed a new machine.
A friend of mine has an earlier generation X1 and it seemed like a good fit for me. First, the ordering process at Dell.com is still plagued by the fact that I can't get good help. I won't go into it in depth here, but my first company (Finali) bought a small Golden Colorado firm called netSage in 2001. netSage had Dell as their only real customer and had created a fantastic virtual agent technology that ran alongside the Dell configurator. It demonstrated a fantastic increase in web conversion, but for some reason was dropped by Dell. To this day, almost 5 years later, I would suspect that Dell's online conversions suffer from the problem the netSage solved there. Oh well, it's not hurting them at all. Dell is a juggernaut. I heard a rumor on TWIT (This Week In Technology, a Podcast) that Intel, not wanting to have Dell be too large, as that puts Intel at risk) has started giving Dell less aggressive pricing, so as to slow down their growth in taking over the Personal Computer Manufacturing space. Don't know if that's true, but if it is that is the quintessential definition of a juggernaut.
Once the X1 arrived at my door - about 10 days after I ordered it - it seemed buggy. The touchpad - which I use (although I know most people hate it - was difficult to control. My initial thought was that it was just because the touchpad itself (and the mouse buttons) are so small. As it turned out it was faulty. I called Dell and got a technician to confirm this. He sent a call tag from DHL (who came and picked up the machine) and had the entire palm rest and touchpad mechanism replaced. I had the box back in a few days and it's MUCH better.
I really like the smallness of this machine. I am a large person - 6' 4", 240lbs - with large hands so the slightly smaller keyboard and touchpad take some getting used to. Still, even I did adjust and can handle typing and mousing around just fine. The weight is almost too light - the machine has to be around 1 lbs. Very light. I also love the extensino battery. Although it sticks out the back of the chassis a bit, it provides around 3.5 hours of battery life with normal use. This is more than enough for a good long work session at the local coffeehouse. I hate all wires and all plugs, so this is great.
The screen is a wide aspect ratio which I find really useful. I can park things to the right of the screen and still view most webpages in their full 1024 width. Nice. The one negative is the single speaker on the right front if the unit. It's barely loud enough to listen to a podcast in a moderately quiet environment. A matching one on the other side would make this better, but there's a lot packed into a small space with this thing for sure.
I upgraded to 1GB of memory, a good enhancement as you can never have too much memory, and it's cheap enough that it's a good upgrade. I got the larger hard drive as well - no fun having to delete apps or files in a couple of years. WinXP Home is fine, although I think I could've gotten the Pro version for little to nothing more.
I've had a little trouble getting the wireless card to reconnect to my (recently secured) wireless network. Not sure why, but it's especially slow after coming back from Hibernation. No shock there. This is probably a Windows issue as Windows has always sucked at Power Management - especially Hibernation.
All-in-all I am very happy with the box and recommend it for anyone who wants a super light laptop with moderate power.
I love France. It is a beautiful country that I've visited several times - but the French people are not - ahem - the world's hardest workers. They were risking falling into economic waste with their (now repealed) movement to shorten their already short work week. How ironic then that the word we use for creating a new business, and that we value as much as anything in a free country - I'm talking about "entrepreneurialism" here - that this word would be of French derivation. Then again, most of English is of French derivation. Still, it's ironic.