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ESPN 360 Free July 1 – July 19 – All World Cup Matches Online Free

Posted on: June 30, 2006 I Written By

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ESPN is offering it’s onlive live tv streaming called ESPN 360 for free until July 19th. It’s a very nice offer since they’ve been streaming all of the World Cup matches from what I’ve seen. I think the quality is better than TVU Player or SOPCast and it is in English. Here’s a few other pros and cons of ESPN 360:
Pros:

  • Completely legal
  • Good quality in small view and decent full screen
  • No skipping or queuing

Cons

  • Limited Shows
  • Only in the US(I believe)

I can’t wait until they do this for all of their shows, so I can get my ESPN fix every day. Luckily I’ll have the World Cup for now. Too bad the US sucked this year or this would be really excellent news.
Next up…Tour de France(did you read the doping scandal?)

Update: Here’s a link to ESPN360 splash page which links to the video.  It seems like the direct link pops up funny.  One more click is better to avoid problems.

Google Checkout (GBuy) Launches – Will it Work?

Posted on: June 29, 2006 I Written By

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I have watched with keen interest as rumors and beta tests of Google’s GBuy(now called Google Checkout) have been swirling aroung the internet. I had even posted about how I hoped that Google Checkout would have no transacation fee during initial phase. However, today we found out in their Google Checkout announcement that they will indeed have a transaction fee as follows:

For every $1 you spend on AdWords, you can process $10 in sales for free through Google Checkout. For example, if you spent $1,000 on AdWords last month, this month you can process $10,000 in sales at no cost. The more you spend to promote your business through AdWords, the more you save on transaction processing fees with Google Checkout.

If you exceed your free transaction processing for the month, or you don’t advertise with AdWords at all, you’ll only be charged 2% plus $.20 per transaction.

The cost for google checkout transactions seems comparable or cheaper than many merchant accounts unless you already spend large amounts on Google Adwords. I decided that doing a little example of the various costs of google checkout would be interesting since I am personally interested in using google checkout as a collection mechanism for fundraising.
Imagine that you make 10 sales at $10 a piece, generating $100 of revenue. This would be a good assumption if your average sales price is $10. How much would you pay google if you didn’t participate in Google Adwords at all?

10 Transactions x $0.20 + $100*2% = $4

Google Checkout Transaction Cost: $4

Essentially you’d be paying 4% of whatever revenue you generated. What if you wanted to purchase enough Google Adwords to avoid paying any transaction costs. How much would you have to pay? You just take a tenth of the revenue that you want to generate.

Google Adwords costs for $100 Revenue: $10

So, if you are able to generate $100 of google checkout revenue you would be getting $10 of Google Adwords advertising for only $6. Not a bad deal as long as you can effectively use Google Adwords advertising.

Personally, I hope they get rid of the transaction costs altogether. From many different sources I’ve read on the internet, the data gleaned from google checkout will be very valuable to Google even without the transaction fee. I guess Google wants the cake and wants to eat it too.

However, there is more to think about when working with google checkout than just the cost of the transaction. You have to think about name recognition. What will google checkout offer you that paypal doesn’t already do? Will they be any better than paypal at not freezing your account and not paying you your money? Whole websites have been created on hating paypal and unfreezing accounts. Will google really be like I read in a recent comment that Google aint evil 🙁? They may not be perfect, but I think they’ll be better.

An even more important reason to be cautious with Google comes from an eBay employee who blogged about google checkout and then took it down. Essentially, Google doesn’t have an eBay full of consumers wanting to use google checkout. It is starting with a customer base that is very small. While I don’t think that google checkout is in the same position as Yahoo! PayDirect, Google should definitely learn from Yahoo’s failure.

In the end, will google checkout work? More importantly for me, will google checkout work for fundraisers? I think its a viable merchant account option. However, that is all. It will take a lot of time to really start competing with PayPal.

If google checkout does reach PayPal status, it will be very interesting to see what eBay decides to do. Could eBay, which owns PayPal, really accept google checkout? I think not…but they sure would like to if google checkout is successful.

7 Free Royalty Free Stock Photo Websites – All the Free Images You Need!

Posted on: I Written By

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As a web designer, blogger or computer user it is always a good thing to know where you can get some free high quality photos for your website, blog, desktop, powerpoint, etc.

I’ve ran across a bunch of websites recently that have a good set of high quality photos available to use for free. Here’s a few I’ve found:

YotoPhoto – Find Free Photos Fast – Search Engine for well over a quarter million Creative Commons, Public Domain, GNU FDL, and various other ‘copyleft’ images

Every Stock Photo – Indexing 271,323 free photos

stock.xchng – Over 200.000 quality stock photos by more than 15.000 photographers

morguefile – Free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use

Free Royalty Free Stock Photos – 400 images so far

FotoSearch – Stock Photography and Stock Footage

Jupiter Image – Royalty Free Stock Photography Images and Photos

I’m sure there are plenty more out there, but this should keep you busy searching for just the right photo. I tried to exclude those sites that didn’t just show royalty free photos or at least had a search feature that let you just search royalty free photos.

Let me know if there are any other great ones that I missed.

Fastest Rock Climber Ever – Puts Spiderman to Shame

Posted on: I Written By

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I found this video of what I think has got to be one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.  This guy rock climbs better than spiderman ever could.  Anyone who has been rock climbing knows that this guy is completely insane.  He has got to be one of the strongest rock climbers around.  It’s hard enough to scale the face he did, let alone do it at that incredible of a speed.  I can’t go up an easy wall with big holes that fast.  Sweet!!

Google Adsense Video Ads – Are you sure you’ve enabled them?

Posted on: June 28, 2006 I Written By

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After reading a post on Inside Adsense I decided that I’d check out which ad formats have the video ads included.  Well, it turns out that there were a number of ad formats that now support videos.  As such I’ve changed the ad on the left of my individual blog posts to have the 250×250 format.  Too bad I haven’t found any video ads to try it on.  I’ll be watching to see how that changes in the future.

One other thing I learned in my search to integrate the video ads into my blog was that I didn’t have image ads enabled for some of my ad blocks.  I’m not sure what exactly happened, but I think that Google must not have had image ads when I put that ad block together.  Regardless, I think it was a bad thing for me to not have images enabled.  I think people like images and it also means I would have had a larger pool to choose from and thus made more money on click throughs.

I guess you just live and learn.  I’ll be more careful watching it now that I know that it is happening. I still love adsense although I have yet to see the large checks that I’ve seen scattered throughout the web.

Email from Bill Gates – The Future of Unified Communications Technology

Posted on: June 27, 2006 I Written By

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I recently read an email said to be sent by Bill Gates that talked about the future of technology and how we communicate with each other. While I like the idea of instant availability I don’t think his letter talks enough about making yourself unavailable also. This type of connectivity is great when I’m working and need to be connected to a system of peers. However, when I’m at home I need a way to be disconnected from my business peers and start connecting with my family. Sometimes I need a way to disconnect from my world altogether. It’s all about having the choice. Otherwise, I can’t wait until the vision of instant communication anywhere is available. Just don’t forget to program the off switch.
Here’s the email:

It doesn’t matter whether you are the chairman of the world’s largest software company, a salesperson at a medium-sized manufacturer or the receptionist at a small startup, there’s one workplace scenario we are all familiar with. It starts when you need to reach a colleague quickly. First you look up their phone extension and give them a call, only to be directed to their voicemail. After you leave a message, you find their mobile phone number and leave a second message. Next, you send an email. If you happen to be in a meeting when your colleague gets your messages and tries to reach you, the process repeats itself, but from the other direction.

A decade’s worth of software innovation has transformed the workplace and empowered information workers to do their jobs with greater speed, effectiveness and intelligence. But communicating with colleagues and sharing information is still far too complicated. Because you are a subscriber to the Microsoft Executive Email program, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about new “unified communications” innovations that will dramatically streamline the way we communicate at work and stay in touch with friends and family at home.

Enhanced Communications in the New World of Work

Today, the Internet provides us with nearly unlimited access to information about markets, products and competitors. Productivity applications help us use that information to gain insight into a rapidly-changing world. Collaboration tools let us work together to transform insight into business decisions that drive success. During the next decade, a new generation of digital technologies will enable companies to create people-ready businesses that help employees work together to make informed, timely decisions that quicken the pace of innovation and open the door to new opportunities.

But communication is still a significant challenge. In a single day, you probably send and receive email, make phone calls from your desktop and mobile telephones, and check messages in multiple mailboxes. You might participate in an audio conference call, use instant messaging and schedule meetings with your calendaring application.

The irony is that rather than making it easier to reach people, the proliferation of disconnected communications devices often makes it more difficult and more time consuming. And in an age when business success increasingly depends on how quickly people can share information, this is a critical issue.

In the coming years, unified communications technologies will eliminate the barriers between the communications modes-email, voice, Web conferencing and more-that we use every day. They will enable us to close the gap between the devices we use to contact people when we need information and the applications and business processes where we use that information. The impact on productivity, creativity and collaboration will be profound.

The Dawn of the Age of Unified Communications

According to a recent study, there’s a 70 percent chance that when you call someone at work, you will get voicemail. Another study found that one in four information workers spend the equivalent of three full working days each year trying unsuccessfully to connect with other people by phone. When you do reach the person you’ve called, there’s no guarantee that it’s a convenient time for them to answer your question, or that they have access to the information you need.

The problem is that our communications identities and experiences are linked too closely to our location, our devices and the mode of contact we are using. Your work number is tied to the phone on your desk. Your cell phone number calls the device you carry in your pocket. You may have separate identities for email and instant messaging, plus a number you call for audio conferencing and a code you must input.

This is far too complicated. Unified communications will reduce complexity by putting people at the center of the communications experience. Our goal is to integrate all of the ways we contact each other in a single environment, using a single identity that spans phones, PCs and other devices. Our vision is to make it easy for people to reach each other using the mode of communication that is the most productive, on the device that is most convenient, while at the same time providing individuals with the highest levels of control over when and how they can be reached, and by whom.

With unified communications, you will be able to tell at a glance if the person you need to talk to is in the office and available to take your call. When you are on the phone, you’ll be able to move from a two-person conversation to a conference call with a click of the mouse, or switch to a video conference that includes colleagues and partners from around the world. Unified communications solutions will have the intelligence to know who is allowed to interrupt you when you are busy and automatically route phone calls, emails and instant messages to the right device when you leave the office. You’ll also be able to listen to your email or read your phone messages.

Unified communications will reduce complexity on the backend, too. Today, IT struggles to operate an unwieldy mix of disconnected systems: a PBX system for phone calls, a messaging system for voice mail, a solution for email, a system for instant messaging and more. According to one recent survey, a typical company has deployed six types of communications devices and runs five different communications software systems.

The expense can be enormous. Even at Microsoft, it still costs up to $750 to give a new employee basic telephony capabilities, plus an additional $180 per user per year for maintenance and management. And Microsoft and companies like ours continue to spend heavily on telephony even though the PC has largely replaced the telephone as the way people prefer to communicate in the workplace. In a recent poll, 61 percent of information workers cited email as their primary communication tool, while 75 percent said they check their email every morning before they check their voice messages.

The Coming Communications Convergence

The arrival of unified communications signals the beginning of the convergence of VoIP telephony (which provides the ability to route telephone calls through the Internet), email, instant messaging, mobile communications, and audio and video Web conferencing into a single platform that shares a common directory and common developer tools. Unified communications also takes advantage of standard communication protocols such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) to route communications to the right people on the right device.

Building on these communications standards, Microsoft is delivering a powerful set of unified communications capabilities that provide the framework for person-centric communications across locations and devices. The result is an approach to unified communications that is:

Personal and intuitive: One of our most important goals is to make communication and information access seamless and personal, no matter where you are or what device you are using. Presence-which provides information about your availability-will enable you to reach the right person on the first try. Intelligent information agent software that understands how you prefer to work will give you control over who can contact you, on what device and at what times. SIP standards and software-based call management will make communications richer and more intuitive, and provide seamless transitions from one communications mode to the next.

Convenient and integrated: Today, when you contact a colleague, you probably need to switch from the application you are working in to an address book and then to a device (like a telephone) or a different application (such as email). Microsoft unified communications will enable you to collaborate directly from the application where you are working. Integration with Microsoft Office will help make Microsoft Outlook the center for all types of communications experiences and provide seamless access to collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint. By delivering a standards-based platform, Microsoft will enable developers to integrate communications into applications that provide even greater value, convenience and power.

Flexible and trustworthy: Microsoft unified communications will enable organizations to consolidate their communications systems into an integrated platform that utilizes a single identity for each user and provides a common management and compliance infrastructure. This will enable IT departments to significantly improve communications and collaboration capabilities while reducing complexity and lowering total cost of ownership. Built on a platform that is secure and reliable, Microsoft unified communications technologies are already helping leading companies achieve groundbreaking TCO. Ebay, for example, has lowered its per-mailbox costs by 70 percent. At Nissan, collaboration technologies have helped save more than US$135 million. And Siemens has unified 130 business units into a single Active Directory.

With products like Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Office Communicator, we have long been at the forefront of digital communications technologies. In the coming year, a new wave of communications products-including Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007, Microsoft Communicator phones and Microsoft Office RoundTable-will enable companies to create an infrastructure what will transform the way they do business.

Unified Communications in the People-Ready Business

To get an idea of what the unified communications world will look like, watch the young people in your organization-particularly the ones who are fresh out of college. They’ve lived their entire lives in the digital age, communicating in real-time via text messaging and instant messages. For some of them, even email lacks the immediate gratification they expect when they want to communicate with someone. To this generation, the desktop phone has about as much relevance as an electric typewriter does for those of us a generation or two older.

Using cutting-edge communications technologies, this younger generation has created online communities based on shared interests. They keep in constant contact with the people they care about, no matter where they are located. They create, collect and share digital content and information-music, pictures, news, video. It’s all a testament to the power and immediacy of today’s digital technology.

It’s also perfect training for the New World of Work. Instead of online communities based on shared interests, when they join your company, they’ll build virtual work teams that span the globe. The list of important people they keep in touch with will expand to include your customers. In addition to music and pictures, they’ll share reports and presentations created in collaboration with colleagues and business partners.

As this generation moves into the workforce, they expect to continue using the devices they’ve grown up with. Organizations that can’t meet this expectation will be at a sharp disadvantage as talented young people choose to work for companies that recognize the value of a new generation of communications innovations.

Companies that do provide the unified communications framework that these young people expect will see incredible benefits. Recruiting young talent will be easier, of course. But the gains will be much broader. Unified communications technology will help companies raise productivity and respond more rapidly to changing business conditions. These technologies will also enable organizations to create closer ties to customers, develop innovative products more quickly and reduce costs.

Ultimately, unified communications is about delivering a new way of doing business that recognizes that people are more important than processes. And it is about creating a New World of Work where technology unleashes the passion and potential that each one of us brings with us every day when we go to work.

Bill Gates

Google Testifies About Protecting Children Online – We Need More of This

Posted on: I Written By

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Google posted about testifying before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about protecting children online.  I am glad that the people in Washington are finally talking about this.  I think there needs to be more talk and more funding for this type of thing.  Unfortunately stopping people from making money from something so vicious as hurting children is difficult to fund.  This is where the government must help protect children.

Here’s google’s list of things they are doing:

– Google has a zero-tolerance policy on child pornography. We prohibit any advertising related to child pornography. When we become aware of child pornography anywhere in our search engine or on our site, we immediately remove and report it to the appropriate authorities.

– We work closely with law enforcement to help track down child predators, and respond to hundreds of child safety-related requests per year.

– We help families stay safe online with tools like SafeSearch, which enables users to filter adult content from search results. We also promote online safety through our support of the WiredSafety education campaign.

While I applaud the efforts of Google I just wonder if they couldn’t do so much more.  The answer is of course an emphatic YES!  However, why should they?  This is the major problem we have facing us.  There isn’t a good financial reason for Google or any company to REALLY address this problem.  Sure, there could be some PR issues, but throwing up a smokescreen of effort and sincerity is enough to handle that problem.

I’m not trying to be critical of Google since they are running a business like everyone else.  However, I just wonder what they could come up with if they spent as much time and money on child safety as they do on other projects like gmail.  I think they could certainly do better than the list above.

Until we reach that point and the billionaires of the world unite their money to fight this pernicious evil we’ll have to go back to the real source of the problem.  Families need to be stronger and parents need to be completely involved in a child’s life.

Watch NBC Treasure Hunters Live Online – No Commercials

Posted on: June 24, 2006 I Written By

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I found a nice link to more Free TV online of the new reality show Treasure Hunters on NBC.  The best part of this video is that they have removed all the commercials.  It’s nice to see NBC on board and streaming TV online.  The quality is quite good too.  I can’t wait for NBC, CBS and ABC to put all of their shows online for streaming.  If they’d just get into Live P2P streaming of TV then they wouldn’t have to worry about the costs of bandwidth nearly as much either and we could enjoy high quality TV on our computer all of the time.

ABC TV Streams Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias, Commander in Chief Episodes Free

Posted on: June 22, 2006 I Written By

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What’s becoming one of my favorite websites ghacks recently posted about how ABC is now streaming full episodes of Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias, Commander in Chief for FREE!! This is such a great step forward to getting rid of my TV. I knew they day would soon be here that I would no longer need a computer and a TV, but instead my computer could act as my TV. Granted, ABC needs to hop on the P2P bandwagon so they can stream their TV live.

The most encouraging news was this:

The [ABC]shows were watched more than 11 million times online in the first month of the test, and an online exit survey showed that 87 percent of respondents could recall the advertisers that sponsored the episodes they watched. A retooled version of the free site, with more shows and features, will be launched in the fall.

This kind of success in advertising means that there is the real potential to get more and more TV on the internet. That’s what advertisers want. Luckily what they want seems to meet my need to watch TV online. One major downside of this service is that it is limited to only the US. There are some easy ways around it if you do a search on the internet, but I think it’s only a matter of time until that restriction will go away also.

I just can’t wait until Fall to see what other shows they start streaming.

Inside Adsense Blog Meets Google Video – Just Skip to the End

Posted on: June 21, 2006 I Written By

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I often find myself reading the Inside Adsense blog that Google does to talk about it’s adsense product.  As you can certainly tell from my site I use a lot of Google Adsense. So, I’m always interested in what they are working on and any new things that come out.

Today they came out with a new format for answering questions using a video they made and an embedded Google Video(which I still need time to look at).  While the content wasn’t that useful since they were basic questions I loved the idea of having a video answer.  Sometimes I’m too tired to read.

As the credits rolled I saw that the video still had a lot more video to go.  So, of course I wanted to see what was at the end.   It turns out it was the “bloopers” of creating the video.  I can just imagine the laughs they had in creating this serious set of answers.  I hope they do more raw answers and less formal responses.  If Google’s motto is something about avoiding evil(I’m too lazy to google search for the real motto right now), then a little laughter and fun might be a good way to avoid boringly evil answers.  At least slice in some of “Last Comic Standing” or something interesting like that in between answers.