Saturday, June 30, 2007

Who Participates And What People Are Doing Online

Very interesting statistics on who is participating in online activities and what they are doing (USA online users) from BusinessWeek.

(Original image)

Could not resist adding this clip


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Friday, June 29, 2007

In-video Search and Ads

I would like to share with you some thoughts and questions I had during the “Under The Radar Entertainment and Media” Conference yesterday.


There is a need for in-video search capabilities, both for people and for business. For people – it will allow finding relevant movies from large catalogs and aggregated sites, and even easy navigation to a specific frame within these movies. For business – it will allow a new type of monetization models on top of user-generated-content.

Some of the issues related to ads within Internet-videos (pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll) are very similar to mainstream TV. People do not like ads and would skip them if they have a chance. I know I skip them by using Tivo. (I learned that there are already tools for skipping ads within these movies as well…)
Some ads are not related to the show or even the show content is harmful to the marketed brand.

Most companies I saw so far are using Adobe Flash as the delivery format. Using Flash allows merging the movies and the ads into one experience. The main experience I saw so far were textual ads Vs. multimedia ads (a movie within a movie). Encapsulated experience (the information is presented within the player) Vs. Open experience (the ads send the viewer to a Webpage).

Another trend is developing the ads using an ‘ad market place’ where creative professionals and amateurs ‘compete’ on advertisements projects.

My thoughts:

  • Advertising within content (video, feeds, etc.) becomes more relevant as the content available via many portals (destination sites).
  • People will continue to skip ads (manually or with some help from independent technologies) while advertisers will continue to push their messages across channels.
  • Advertisement agencies leverage creativity from many sources, with a low cost.
  • How can content producers be compensated for their content when it been used as a marketing vehicle?
  • From “Who own the channel?” to “Who own the clip?”

An interesting example for an ad from my friend Craig Cmehil:

is the new interesting in-video company I saw.
With a very interesting text search capability, based on the audio track analysis, as well as "heat map" navigation concept for the scrollbar.
(And again… where was I…)


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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Logo of the Day: HotHead Games

From all the companies I saw today at the "Under the Radar Entertainment and Media" Conference, HotHead Games has the best logo (visual design, association to the company / brand / products) by far:

Great logo for a game development company!


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Word of the Day: WAG

I’m attending the "Under the Radar Entertainment and Media" Conference today and learning many new things about ads and technology (more posts are on the way…)

One of the terms I hear everywhere is “WAG”.
I searched about it for 5 minutes and found some relevant data.

But all of these are not in the context of today’s discussions.

Today WAG stands for “What about Google?”.



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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Video Sharing with eSnips / or how eSnips saved my day/face

Today I received an eMail from a friend, asking for my help posting/hosting two, 12 minutes long, training videos, produced by her company.

“You know this stuff, it should not be a problem for you” she wrote. “What the problem?” I replied, “Just YouTube them …”

As it seems, YouTobe as well as other sites I checked has a 10 minutes length limit. (I guess it has good reasons for that, mainly due to copyrights and people posting TV shows…)

“Send me the files using yousendit and I will cut them into shorter movies” I suggested. (Being as productive and lazy as possible, at the same time). “No” she replied, “We tried that, but the movies have to be presented as is”.

So I had to find another solution.

One option was to simply convert the movies from WMV to FLV and upload them to my friend’s site. But I did not have the right tool installed (yet), due to my recent switch to Mac. I also wanted the movies to play within a player (to allow play, stop, rewind and other operations).

So – back to posting/hosting/sharing solutions…

Recently I learned that videoegg have a great interface, allowing you to edit and convert movies on your local machine before uploading them to their site. I created an account, downloaded the Safari plug in and gave it a try. The process was fast and fun. The only problem was that a water-mark of flip4mac was added to the exported movie… WTF?!

I know they have a great video encoders and converters – but I was not expecting to see this. What good is the videoegg plug-in if it does not provide a complete solution? Should I pay for the convector? Does this really save me time?

Anyway – after a cup of coffee I decided to address this issue not as “video posting” challenge but as a content sharing challenge. I thought about online services I use to host my data.

I’ve checked, but my free account does not allow me to upload files larger than 10mb…

And then I remembered that I am using another site to host a verity of files and formats. eSnips is a content/community portal and service. eSnips supports many content types.

Full of hope, I’ve logged in to my account and set a new public folder. I’ve uploaded the two 90Mb WMV files within few minutes and...


I’ve used the video widget to embed the movies within the eSnips player and send the code to my friend.

As a bonus – the WMV files were converted automatically to FLV, so I could download them for future use.

Talk about a great service!

So this is how, by the end of the day, I helped my friend and mained my “multimedia guru” reputation.
(At least with her…)


PS – This is a movie, demonstrating some of the service features, I found on eSnips.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

10 reasons why I switched to Mac (MacBook Pro)

  1. So I could start my day with a smile and not with "Control" "Alt" "Delete".
  2. So I will not have only 1 hour of power.
  3. So I will not have to wait 5 minutes every time my laptop is waking up.
  4. So I could use my 24" Screens without the need to upgrade drivers and boost my docking stations beyond their limits.
  5. So I could open Photoshop files and get work done within less than 30 minutes.
  6. So I will not have the IT department pushing me "Critical Updates" every other day. (Especially the Excel French dictionary…)
  7. So my digital camera and I will be friends again.
  8. So I could run “Windows” within a small window (just for eMail and other must have Enterprise applications).
  9. So I could have videoconferences without any cables.
  10. So I would feel like I care about it and write this list.



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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The iPhone and Interaction Design

I like great, simple, functional design.
I do.
So - like many others, I also got as close as I could get to the new Apple iPhone by viewing the latest iPhone tour.

I really liked what I saw for two main reasons: (1) It seems like a really innovative and great product. (2) It is not perfect. Do not get me wrong - I am not taking pleasure in others problems, it just make me feel better about the challenges I'm facing when designing complex business products.

The interaction design of this device is outstanding. There are some new ideas I did not see or think of before, made available by using the touch-screen, which inspired me.

But I also saw great examples from how hard it is providing a continuously interaction model, even within this 'closed' device (The interaction options are well defined. The device has known display options).

As I reviewed the movie I've noticed that some of the interactions, especially regarding zoom actions, are different.
I think I've noticed that because the iPhone is promoted as a one device with all these great integrated applications (you can call by clicking numbers appearing in notes, eMail, SMS and such, for example) and the experience is not as integrated as for the zoom actions.

Some examples:

Zooming in:

In documents such as Excel and PDF zooming in done by using two fingers clicking and dragging to opposite directions.

In Safari (browser) and in the Google maps zooming in done by double taps on the area you would like to increase.

Zooming out
is done by tapping with two fingers in the Google map and with one tap (and finger) in the browser and other applications.

I think this shows the complexity of designing and building a system/device/service, composed by many providers. Some additional challenges, in business applications, include legacy systems with totally different UI concepts and technologies.

Overall – I think the iPhone is a very promising device and I will keep monitoring and looking for opportunities to use its (current) unique capabilities beyond the consumer market.


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Friday, June 22, 2007

Thoughts on video search and in-video ads

Yesterday afternoon at Supernova, thirteen companies selected by TechCrunch and Supernova presented 5 minutes demos.

ReadWriteWeb coveted the demos very well.

The interesting discussed trends were around mobile applications and experiences, vertical search and in-video ads.

I found the direction of creating an “ad layer” on top of user-generated content very interesting.
The mechanism of adding ‘business value’ at post-production phase seems very scalable.

About 4 years ago, I was working with some of my team members on developing eLearning tools to capture knowledge within enterprises. The concept was very simple.
Take long recording of training sessions, NetMeeting/WebEx sessions and analyze the video stream. We found and indexed video frames where a new side was shown, when a new topic was discussed and so on. We were working on an OCR capability to automate adding labels to the index. The end result was a create tool to capture and generate many eLearning units – used by SAP Developer Network ever since…

Well… These were very simple videos and the eBooks were very structured. Today, the user-generated-videos as well as other high quality video clips are more complex and understanding/mining them can be used for more than smart indexing.

Some of the parameters that could be use to analyze a video could include:

  • Tags
    • Use tags to find key terms
  • Audio
    • Voice-to-Text, find key terms
    • Theme – could be recognize and tagged
  • Video/Image
    • OCR – extract the text, find key terms
    • Colors – colors could be matched to tagged branding colors
    • Refresh rate – indicate the pace of the video and could be use for tagging and matching
  • Time
    • Used to create anchors within the data stream
  • Links to this object
    • Indicates domains with interests in this content

So – by analyzing video content objects using such mechanism, one (or a system) could create a good meta-data level understanding of the content and other parameters which define the content and be able to match it to other content objects (such as ads) with similar characteristics. These days, using Adobe Flash and other multi-media formats, the ‘Ad layer’ could be added to relevant content. The time anchors in the movies provide an opportunity to provide the ads in context and on time. show a great demo of these capabilities.

I was focusing on better service to the users and they found a way to make money out of it... Why didn’t I think about it…


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

SuperNova2007 (6/...)

Does the Net Need an Upgrade?
(Van Jacobson, Rick Hutley, Norman Lewis, David Isenberg)

Applications, user expectations, business arrangements, and infrastructure demands are all changing as the Internet converges with voice, video, and mobile networks. There are even calls for a fundamental technical redesign of the Net, in order to address scaling, security, and other needs. Will the Internet of the next decade look different than the Internet of today? Should it?


Rick Hutley:
• The Internet is not “out there” – it is a collections of activities shared by people and companies.
• The Internet as corporation use it – keep changing.
• The upgrade should be defined by the entities that use it.
• Security will continue to be a problem, as the nature of business become more complex.

Norman Lewis:
• We need to define who to engage in a discussion with the stakeholders and users.
• Security is a main topic. How do we create a balanced process and result?

Van Jacobson:
• The protocol was design in 1975 and was changed only 3 times since. And this is very good, compared to the telephone system – from a scale point of view.
• Keeping the “Net” simple was achieved by following the concept of pushing everything to the edge.
• The place we could not push to the edge was security. The “Net” is moving data and the “Net” is blind to the dataset, therefore it cannot help the end points with security. “Garbage/threats” in “garbage/threats” out.
• We need to upgrade the content and the ways to secured it – keep the “Net” simple.
• Making the “center/core” more complex will not work.

David Isenberg
• We need to be careful when trying to fix the current issues not to cause more damage.
• There are calls for upgrading the “Net” be companies – trying to support their current business models (limit Internet solutions that affect their business – for example – phone companies who would like to charge more for Internet services, providing VoIP).

My Thoughts:

Similar to ‘upgrading’ the ‘Web’ (offerings, services, applications) to ‘Web2.0’, upgrade of the Internet should bring real value and new concepts/applications.
There are constant changes in the way people and companies/organizations are using the Internet.
No one can stop current processes as these activities happens at the edges and are motivated by market needs. It cannot be stopped or rebooted.

As for the responsibility for the security issue (Network core/protocol or applications at the edge), the panel used examples of sending a secured letters via the mail.

My example would be related to cars, trains and travel: At the edge, cars ars are getting better, safer, faster, smarter, greener, while in the core, the infrastructure is lagging behind. Forcing new order in transportation is like forcing cars to be loaded onto trains and travel on specific rails.

It is the way you would like to travel?
What is worst – a car crash or a train crash?


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SuperNova2007 (5/...)

Data dump: KC Claffy
The greatest problems of the Internet… and why we aren’t making measurable progress in solving them.


Claffy listed the top operational Internet problems as shown here:

According to her, the problem with this list is that it was complied with uncompleted data, which was collected, by companies and organizations with interests in the domain. Can we trust this data and outcomes?

My Thoughts:

I am concerned from the presented trends, and even more from the notion that professional claim they do not have enough good data, but yet publish their finding…

Is more = less or less = naïve/happy?

One of the key concepts of the Internet, as I heard in the following session, was ‘keep the Net simple and push complexity to the edges’. Maybe the way to receive some relevant data should come from addressing the users issues. Users = customers and that could create more pressure on the providers to share and measure relevant operational data.


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SuperNova2007 (4/...)

Spotlight: Udi Manber
Search is at the center of today’s Internet experience. The top search technologist at the top search company discusses where search is going


Scale and diversity is amazing. It seems that 20-25% of the queries Google see each day are new…

One of the parameter of the search algorithm is location based, which helps/makes the result to be more relevant to the user.

Instance translation allows people to learn and consume information from other languages.

My thoughts:

Great short session about the current and future search features from Google.

As for the demo we saw - Does “Where I am” indicates “Who I am” and what my interests are?

I guess I could stay logged in to Google at all time and let them track me anywhere I go…


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SuperNova2007 (3/...)

Dark Matter: Are We Missing the Real Internet Economy?
(Ge Jin, Max Levchin, Andrea Matwyshyn, Elliot Noss, Ellen Siminoff)

Much of the economic activity online isn't the visible shopping or advertising. Billions of dollars flow through hidden activities, ranging from the widely-accepted (search marketing and behavioral targeting), to the grey market ("gold farming" and manipulation of domain names), to the bad guys (the spam economy and extortion via denial of service). Could these under-appreciated practices someday (or perhaps today) be the real economic backbone of the Web?


10-15% of search result revenue is generated by users who misspell the URL in the address bar and get to a “search” page – populated by Yahoo!/Google generated links.

Domain name resale will merge (in the process) with creating new domains. The best advertising value on the Web is a domain name.

There was a long discussion about the risks, methods and activities around ID thefts, scams and other ways to rip your network ID (from eBay to eMail accounts and so). The severity of attacks is growing.
Too scary to write about…

The Widgets are the next big thing in advertising.
Flash based Widgets are a great platform to consume (view and buy) media and transactions.
Domain navigation will continue to play important role due to search algorithms, credibility and so on.

The discussion ended with a positive note that individuals and companies who are successful (have real customers and real money flow) – are successful because they helped people to achieve what they (the people) wanted.

My thoughts:

Action items
  • Reset online passwords…
  • Close old accounts…
  • Think about the future role of the browser vs. widgets vs. OS.


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SuperNova2007 (2/...)

Industry Visions: Nathan Myhrvold, Greg Papadapolous, Irving Wladawsky-Berger

What will drive future growth and innovation in the technology sector? Hear the surprising predictions of three industry heavyweights.


IT systems are complex. More and more people are using them.
Systems are predictable as they were design by people. People are not predictable. The main problem we have now is that most of the complex systems were designed long time ago. Things changed and the systems did not. This is why IT services industry grown so much – it simply connected people and systems.

There is a need for new architectures that could adopt as people evolve. We still think in physical world terms such as ‘there is no need to redesign or rebuild the golden bridge’. True – but it still serve the same needs in the same way – but other IT systems needs to provide solutions to new needs we do no expect from a physical object…

The ‘new’ Knowledge economy stands on a narrow base, provided created by the industrial economy.

My thoughts:

It seems we are trying (again) to solve a “round” problems with “square” solutions. It is like digital cameras; In order to provide better pictures we invest in better sensors, storage, higher resolution and sometimes in better lenses.

Well – it works in some cases. From my perspective, digital cameras may not be as good as film, but they changed the rules of the game by reducing the cost of experiments, making it easy to edit and share.

I think we should not ‘(re)engineer’ the systems by mimicking and automating high-enough-resolution observations, but to think what are we trying to achieve first (regardless of the current way we do it now, due to our ability to adopt to IT limitations), how would we like to work and what tools do we have and will have during the lifetime of that system.


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SuperNova2007 (1/...)

I'm attending Supernova2007 event today.

Here are some of my notes and thoughts so far.

Provocations: Denise Caruso, Clay Shirky
Deep thinkers set the stage for the conference, by challenging us to question our assumptions about technology.

Denise Caruso (Founder, Hybrid Vigor Institute) session was around Anti-Social Media and 'risk assessment' for innovation.

What are the costs due to the positive and negative outcomes of the innovation? For example, nuclear power, Google Street view...
The suggested solutions are around community and conversations.
"Let's talk,” allow to de-escalate issues and to better understand the cost and outcomes.

Why people do not talk... Fear, potential cost, Blogs that create comments and not conversations...

The nature of technology shapes how we work and live.
How can we create social networks for people who are NOT like us?

The risk of not trying is bigger than the potential cost...

She also promoted her new book.

Clay Shirky (Author and Consultant)

The questions should not be "what is the business model" - it should be "Does it being support and developed by people who love it".

Why is a Perl is an option as many people love it and the community is strong.
Linux is being rebuild every night by people with passion.

Commercial support of any technology is weaker than a support of a community.

Now we can do big things for love...

My thoughts:

  • The need to communicate and to part of a network is really in our natures.
  • People need people.
  • People value communities.
  • People value conversations and they are willing to look aside from the negative aspects, such as ‘anonymous connections’, ID thefts and unfriendly interfaces.

As ‘Technologies’ we should focus on how to make technology as transparent and as empowering as possible. Not for the sake of coolness.

As a person who appreciates good design – I find great challenges in creating people-oriented-experiences for technology/business-oriented-systems.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

LinkedIn or LockedIn?

I've noticed two main trends recently:

1) People are sending more LinkedIn eMails.

2) GTD (getting things done) become popular again.

I received so many LinkedIn updates in the last few weeks I decided to look into this trend. As it seems, my profile was not updated at all (nice feature they have there that shows you how much you are NOT up-to-date ), and my contacts list of very short. I decided to do something about it and started pinging my contacts. Very quickly my contact list grew by over 50% and I started to get endorsements from people I really missed...

Putting LinkedIn aside for a second, I noticed/discovered more and more Blogs and sites dealing with GTD.

"Echo Alert"
The largest collections I saw was from

A person could spend so much time picking and trying tools, no work will get done ever.

Coming back to LinkedIn... It is addictive. I must stop before it is too late...

(I guess I should keep my focus on the professional work rather on my professional network, or not?!)


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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Personal media and consolidation

Few days ago my wife, Nili, told me "we need to move our picture albums". Well, I thought, she will tell me where to put them and I will do the heavy lifting. This was not the case, apparently, we have over 6Gb of images in Yahoo! Photos and the service is shutting down soon.
We have so many new pictures and albums since Nili started Taking Photography Seriously.

As Yahoo! has two competing services (Photos and Flickr) it makes sense to merge/choose one. (Although I think they are targeting different audiences).

But it did make me think again about the constant conflict/tension between Consolidation and Alternatives trends. The "Web 2.0" is a great example for (re)creating alternatives with few to non differentiations (same concepts, same features, same look different mission statement). On the same look-and-feel, but different mission statement). On the other hand, consolidation trends, such as standardization activities in the open source arena.

While thinking of this, I saw this great futuristic movie with an interesting consolidation scenario.

"Echo Alert"

My comments:
1) What do you think will happen to personal media?
2) I
nteresting to see they vision the future in English...


Getting started + "Echo Alert"

Hello *.*
Well, I've decided to surface up.
The main reason I decided to start this Blog is because I see many interesting websites, technologies, design ideas and people along my work day and sometimes people ask me questions about topics I know about. I thought it would be great if I could share the topics I'm working on, before I find myself in the 'where did I see this before?' mode...

One other thing - I may link to other Blogs, sites and other online materials that many other Bloggers post. I really hate it when people just echo and repeat without adding value. I promise to raise the "Echo Alert" everytime I may do the same...

Good luck to us all...