Guest Post: Mobile News Applications from the UK’s Reese Jones

Keeping Up With the News – Digital Tools

by Reese Jones

News travels faster than ever and there is more of it, reported in more ways, by more agencies, than you could possibly imagine. Trying to keep up with it all is an impossibility. That’s why it can be of great benefit to the news hungry, to have some way to tailor what news will reach them. With mobile devices set to take over as the major news communication device, the number of news apps has proliferated faster than a plague of locusts. With so many apps out there, it is hard to choose the one that suits you best. Here are some handy tips to helping you find what is best for you. Please note, these are only guidelines and not articles of faith…

News: Your point of view
With so much news out there, it is important that your app learns to discern what news would typically be of interest to you. Your news app should be able to pick out news from geographical regions, subject areas such as art, entertainment and politics as well as what type of news. This last option is a little tricky. You might be more interested in features rather than straight-up news reports. You might want news round up like a stockmarket report or general news bulletin. A good news app should be able to scan the news out there and pick out the news based on your preferences.

Presentation
The layout is also crucial. Some news apps can organise your news efficiently according to your preferred categories. In some instances they can even prioritise what news reaches you, so that if time is short the important news reaches you first. It can also adapt the way the news is presented to you, so that for example you can have a list of news snippets presented to you. RSS feeds are a particularly popular way of garnering news that interests you in an accessible way that allows you to find out what’s going at just a glance.

Who has your ear?
In this age of celebrity, news presenters can attract a cult following so if you just cannot bear the thought of missing any interrogation from The Paxman then you should get a news app that can identify and select news from certain sources. My father, for example, has a completely irrational love of FOX news. Now if I were of a mind, I could install an app that looks specifically for reports from FOX News; unfortunately for him, he can’t install the app – he’s not savvy enough to know how…he watches FOX news after all. Of course, I won’t bother. My mother told me not to encourage other people’s bad habits. Naturally, nigh on every national news agency has their own app, if you have your colours pinned to one particular mast.

Delivery
How about this for fancy? Buzz Voice can scan the news for your favourite news items and then read them out to you. In essence, you would be creating your own personal news radio show. You can happily make yourself breakfast in the morning while your phone tells you what’s going on in the sectors and countries you are interested in. I’m a particular fan of using this app when my mother-in-law comes to visit, as I can pretend I’m on the phone to someone. Amazing how hearing what’s going on in Africa helps you blur out someone’s very existence from your consciousness.

Share the pain/gain
Some particular news item excites or depresses you so much you just have to tell your friends? Well, many news apps have jumped on the online social bandwagon and allow you to share your news collections in an easy manner. Pulse News is a particularly useful way of organising and sharing your news on Facebook, Twitter or via email.


About the Author
Reese Jones is a tech and gadget lover, a die-hard fan of iOS and console games. She started her writing venture recently and writes about everything from quick tech tips, to mobile-specific news from the likes of O2, to tech-related DIY. Find more about her and her work at Reese+ and tweet her  @r_am_jones.

Domain Name Speculation

Data from Wikipedia’s entry on “Domain Name Speculation

* The number of registrations of .com domain names grew from 23,662,001  in  January 2003 to 80,759,835  in January 2009.

Wiki goes on to note that a quirk in the registration rules led to a surge in the practice of “Domaintasting” where a huge bulk order of domain names would be registered for a short time.   Only the names that created click revenue from pay per click ads would be kept.    This led to new domain hosting companies set up simply to filter for marginally valuable names that could be set up to get click revenue, and then to a new rule in June 2008 from ICANN, the body that oversees domain registrations.  ICANN started to limit the number of domains that a registrar could delete in the ICANN “grace period” where no fees were charged.   These grace period deletions fell by 99.7% the following year as the practice of “domain tasting” became less profitable.

Verisign Domain Brief in June 2009 identified  92 million COM and NET domain names, 24 percent with one page websites, 64% have multipage websites and 12% have no associated websites.

These last numbers suggest to me that the speculation is not as rampant as most seem to think – ie most sites are multiple page implying content and not speculation.    Of course systems like the one I’m testing now at Godaddy that auto-generate several pages of content make it even harder to distinguish between  sites that are driven speculatively vs those that are driven more by a passion to communicate or quality initiatives.       As the quality, sharable content online increases and systems become smarter I think we may see that it will be impossible to distinguish between sites created by humans and those made automatically.

CES 2010: Carol Bartz to Keynote at CES Las Vegas

Update:  Bartz will not be speaking at CES 2010:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2355792,00.asp

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz will be one of the keynotes at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Bartz will speak at 11 AM Thursday, January 7th in the Las Vegas Hilton.

Bartz was Autodesk CEO from 1992 to 1996, and took the helm of a troubled Yahoo in January 2009, just months after Yahoo founder Jerry Yang resigned the post after months of controversy surrounding his decision to avoid a Microsoft takeover of Yahoo at upwards of $31 per share.

Bartz is known as a “no nonsense” tough executive and many assumed at the time her job was to groom the company for a Microsoft takeover. However that never materialized.  Instead, Yahoo and Microsoft recently announced a joint search deal where Yahoo will effectively be dropping Yahoo search and using Microsoft BING search technology instead.  Yahoo will continue to sell advertising across both networks giving the combined Microsoft Yahoo search empire a larger advertising footprint.   Most feel this deal is more beneficial to Microsoft than Yahoo since it expands BING’s reach at only a small cost to Microsoft.   Yahoo will retain most of the advertising revenues for the next several years in this deal.

Perhaps Bartz most quotable moments to date were about a month into her tenure when she said she would “kick ass” with the Yahoo brand and also inadvertently suggested that some Yahoo engineers were not “f**king doing anything.”

Other executives expected to give keynote addresses at CES 2010 include Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Alan Mulally of Ford (see our CES 2009 Coverage of Mulally’s keynote) , Paul Otellini of Intel, and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo of Nokia.

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel spoke at CES 2006, and Jerry Yang gave a very uninspired talk in 2008 CES, but Yahoo had little to say at CES 2009.

Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association said after the announcement:

“Yahoo is a top global brand whose vision is to be the center of people’s online lives, and Carol Bartz is leading the development of Yahoo’s approach to delivering personally relevant, meaningful Internet experiences,”


Disclosure:  Joe owns YHOO stock

Wolfram Alpha Search. It’s no Google.

Reporting:  Joe Hunkins

Early hype suggesting that new search engine Wolfram Alpha could be a possible “Google Killer” quickly shifted to a focus on Wolfram’s new approach to search, which they call “computational”.     Although Technology-Report had early access to the program it is now open to all here:  http://www.wolframalpha.com

Although I’ve only spent a short time looking for inspiration at Wolfram Alpha, I’d have to say I could not find any answers where I felt Wolfram would beat out a Google search combined with some quick scans of the listed resources.     Wolfram’s promise was to deliver “the answer” to complicated questions but it seems to work well only for the kinds of information it appears they have already sliced and diced into packages, and I’m not clear it even beats out a Wikipedia entry when searching for data like states or countries where a packaged approach to the information is best.

A quick comparison of Wolfram’s answer to “New York” vs Google’s vs Wikipedia’s

In a case like this I’d argue Wikipedia is the clear winner, giving the user extensive information and links to more.   Google second with good lists, and Wolfram a distant third with very limited information given the wealth of data online.

For students creating notes (or papers to hand in!) Wolfram may provide some great tools with its unique organization schema, but for most internet researchers and browsers I think Google has nothing to worry about here at all.

Top Technology Stories of 2008

Update:  Don’t miss our upcoming CES 2011 live coverage here at Technology Report

Techmeme is a favorite of many in technology for pulling together technology stories and the conversations that often swirl around them.  Unlike a simple “ranking” system, TechMeme surfaces the top stories and then links out to blogs and sites that are discussing those “hot topics”.     Thus a quick review of TechMeme can give you a very fast orientation to the stories that are making their rounds in the blogs.    That does not always correspond to stories that actually *matter* to real folks, but it’s a great start.

TechMeme’s new story editor Megan has a list here of the top 10 for 2008.   Number one was the Microsoft – Yahoo aquisition saga, number two was Apple quitting MacWorld, and number three was Google Chrome.


Disclosure: Long on YHOO

Facebook – Myspace = 100% revenue share

Josh at Redeye VC has some *excellent* points about the coming big battle between Facebook and Myspace for web developers:

If you ran a venture-backed company and had to decide whether you wanted to focus your effort on: (a) a property that welcomed you in and let you keep 100% of the revenue you generate or (b) a company with a vague policy that doesn’t let you generate any revenue, which would you choose? I don’t think it’s even a decision. It’s an IQ test.

However, it is significant that Myspace remains far larger than Facebook in terms of a user base and also important is that users, not developers, have driven the success of Myspace.

Facebook is hard to analyze because until very recently they had a much more restrictive policy on new accounts, opening them only to groups associated with businesses or universities. To join Facebook I initially had to contact my old alma mater – University of Wisconsin – to get an alumni email set up, then redirect that to my current mail. No big deal but certainly a barrier to entry. Facebook now (wisely) has opened itself up to everybody and (also wisely) is pursuing a very open approach to API usage and social media. Most importantly Facebook is going to allow those who build applications around Facebook to keep 100% of the revenue those create.

I think this “100% revenue share” is a brilliant approach because the Facebook “whole” will be much greater than the sum of these parts. Thus Facebook can make a *lot* of money through the extra traffic and advertising created by websites and developers and users gravitating to the Facebook social media ecosystem. The loser in this equation would be Myspace and other sites (that would be MOST sites) that try to create social media environments but don’t share much of the revenues.

Jimmy Wales on Charlie Rose

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, discusses his Wikia search projectand the internet. He’s the chairman of Wikia, Inc. He thinks it’ll be 2-3 years before they have a robust product.

“Democratic, participatory” search project.
“Google, Yahoo, Ask” have similar, proprietary and closed search. He wants to break up the idea that a few companies should be so dominant.

Making search ubiquitous. He thinks Google may not have problems with WIKIA because they can keep matching up ads, advertisers, and buyers as they have been.

Wales thinks Facebook made the right decision to turn down Yahoo’s billion+ offer for Facebook, calling it an “interesting gamble”. “He’s a pretty sharp guy” (Zuckerman), and Wales thinks that unlike Myspace, Facebook is doing right by the customers. Notes increase of spam and advertising intensity of Myspace.

Wikia major initiatives: Search, Reference Works for humor, opinion, sports. 66 languages plus a “Klingon language” project. “Roll this revolution” into many other areas. What makes the internet great is that it’s a “global platform for people to share knowledge”. Keeping it “open” appears to be a key guiding principle for Wales, and his admirable efforts at Wikipedia support his sincerity in that mission.

Wales suggests that Firefox is the best browser, primarily due to features that he sees as the result of the open source development model that created Firefox.    He says that monopolistic activity by Microsoft has slowed innovation, but feels that Google is a friend of Open Source.     Wales recounted telling Bill Gates at Davos that Microsoft search is so bad people are switching away from it as the Vista default, and suggests that he’ll have fun trying to build a better search than Google with Wikia.

Microsoft LIVEs!

Paul Graham is ridiculously suggesting that “Microsoft is Dead“.

I remember back in the 90’s when many where suggesting how IBM was dead, and how obvious it was that the Apples and Microsofts and clever upstarts would make IBM obsolete.

As this chart shows IBM has thrived since that time, and though they hardly make the news much anymore it’s very important to note that IBM is a bigger company (measured by capitalization) than the following “big winners”: Google, Apple, Yahoo.

Also notable is the fact that what is probably the best search algorithm in the world belongs to … IBM. It’s called “WebFountain”. It’s not scalable and therefore not an alternative to Google at this time, but one can’t even count IBM out of the *search wars*, let alone Microsoft.

Microsoft isn’t dead. Not even close. Of course it is suffering from the inertia that naturally springs from huge success and dominance, but like IBM it will find new markets, new niches, and will benefit (eventually) from the innovations of it’s competitors as they were able to benefit – hugely – from Microsoft innovations (e.g. free internet browser software on all PCs).

Don Dodge corrects the foolishness, and Tony is right to suggest that MS has plenty of life left.

It’s even possible that Microsoft will win the big game. With the LIVE project, Microsoft’s neural network approach to search may be more advanced than Google’s and although search result quality continues to lag Google’s by a notch it’s simply not clear how search will evolve over the next few years.

Fixing Yahoo

Over at Venture Beat Dave’s got a plan for Yahoo.

I think he makes good points, but I maintain that Fixing Yahoo is even easier, to wit:

Publishers are willing to spend a LOT of innovations and time finding the best monetization relationships with search engines and these can generally beat Google’s automated routines.    If you add this to cost per sale follow up metrics you have something that is unspoofable and better than Google, where advertisers continue to pay *hundreds of millions* per year (perhaps as much as a billion) for useless clicks if you assume that 20% of all clicks are worthless or fraudulent.

Google is milking the cow until the cow gets smart. Fortunately for Google evolution is slow and we humans are stupid.

Startup Camp

I’m back at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View at Startup Camp, another great UNconference event from David Berlind and Doug Gold and hosted by several nice sponsor companies.

The focus here is broader than the Mashup Camps which were more relevant to my travel experience and where we need to go with Online Highways, but I’ve enjoyed excellent “open” presentations by Jeff Barr from Amazon and Venture Capitalists Jeff Clavier with Rick Segal who are generously offering some really key insights into the startup funding process.

Matt Mullenweg is here and it was fun to meet the creator of the superb WordPress environment.