Category Archives: Tech

by Michelle Lentz

Back in early May, the Facebook Developers blogged about the delayed profile redesign. Since then, I’ve become a “fan” of the Facebook Previews page. In addition, Facebook led a press walkthrough of the proposed new design today. I wasn’t there, being in Cincinnati, but I eavesdropped via TechCrunch. The new design, at least in its current state, is created to truly optimize user-generated content and interaction. Whether blending tagged photos or giving users control over their Feeds, the focus is on the information and communication.

Yesterday, the developers posted an Overview album to the Facebook Previews page. The Overview album is basically a short slideshow, with screen captures of what may be coming. Note that the slide show makes it abundantly clear that these designs could still change before launch, and the screenshots over at TechCrunch do seem to be slightly different. The three big changes are the use of tabs, the Publisher, and top navigation.

The new tabs include Feed, Info, Wall, Photos, and Applications. A “+” tab is also included, where you can put your favorite application(s) into its own tab. The new design is similar (although more complex, naturally) to the design of the iPhone Facebook app.

The Feed tab contains your Feed, similar to your Feed page that currently exists in Facebook. I’m guessing that you will have more control, however, over what is displayed. The Info tab consists of static information, which seems to be the information currently displayed on your Profile page (basic info, personal info, education and work). The Wall tab is still your Wall, just a little more hidden. According to TechCrunch, the Wall may or may not end up integrated with your Feed. The Photos tab displays your photos, as well as photos tagged of you. There is no longer a distinction between photos you tagged of yourself and those tagged by your friends. Your albums are also visible on this tab.

The final tab, the Applications (Boxes) tab, is where all those crazy applications can reside. They no longer need to clutter your main page. I appreciate this. I often go through and kill off applications in order to keep my page uncluttered. I also hide most of my applications in the extended profile option. Extended profiles never seemed to really catch on however, as none of my friends seem to use them. Applications can be given their own tab as well, which will be viewable from a drop-down menu that pops up when you click the “+” tab.

Via TechCrunch, “Applications can add text and images on the Info tab page to provide more information about a user. List top friends, top music choices, etc.” Apparently at the press viewing today, this tab was called the Boxes tab, although the screenshots from yesterday call it Applications. That’s just an example of how in flux the design still is.

The Publisher is a new tool that lives in the Feed tab.

20 May

ZTail

by Michelle Lentz
Late last night I saw an article on ZTail on TechCrunch. Then it got lost in the abundance of posts over there. What can I say – the cute little monkey stuck with me.

ZTail is an interactive pricing guide. When you list things on eBay, you can easily check more than eBay to get an estimated listing price. ZTail will show you Craigslist, Shopping.com, and other related sites as well as let the community at large serve as amateur appraisers of the item. TechCrunch really hit the nail on the head when they described Ztail as a “mixture of Antiques Roadshow, The Price is Right, and eBay.” I especially see The Price is Right comparison.

ZTail lets you play appraiser. People list objects they’re thinking about selling. Other people assign a worth to that object. You can create a ZTail widget to put on your web site, allowing people outside of ZTail to assign a worth to the object.

As a user, you acquire a score, based on your accuracy as compared to the average price. You can grow your score by linking to other locations where a similar object has sold, which validates the price you chose.

ZTail also makes it simple, once you’ve set a price, to list your object on eBay with easy-to-use templates.

Right now, ZTail is a great idea but lacks, well, something. I suspect that something is people. ZTail depends on user-generated content – worth estimations, reviews, and products – to survive. It’s new, so it doesn’t have much of that yet. With a strong user base, this site could become a hit, and a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like the The Price is Right?

Here’s a great video from DemoGirl that shows all of the ZTail features:

Words and Photos by Julie Blaustein

The SanFran Music Tech Summit: round two, came around again really soon. The first one was held back in February and it’s now the beginning of May. Yet, the turnout was greater, there were 10 more sponsors and overall the content was more defined and interesting.

Most likely the reason for acting so quickly to have another conference in such quick succession had to do with the fact that NARM – The National Association of Recording Merchandisers took place the previous week in San Francisco. And if you are in the music business, you would be there. And now you had an excuse to hang out for the rest of the week in San Francisco and attend the SanFran MusicTech Summit.

In case you haven’t heard, the Music business is in trouble. Forrester Research came out with a report back in February titled, “The End of the Music Industry as We Know it” and that pretty much says it all. Technology, which is supposed to make things easier, faster, better – is killing the music industry.

Only yesterday the Warner Music Group Corp. whose artists include R.E.M., Madonna and Greenday said Thursday that the higher costs and a shift to digital music resulted in a wider-second-quarter loss and it suspended dividends. Just as in the first Summit, this theme resonated throughout every panel.

The first and the strongest panel – “The Thought Leaders,” consisted of some extremely well respected folks in the industry including Ty Roberts of Gracenote, recently acquired by Sony, Michael Petricones of the Consumer Electronics Association, Aza Raskin of Mozilla, Tim Westegren of Pandora and Moderated by Brian Zisk, the brain child behind the SanFran MusicTech and of the Future of Music Coalition. Each one of these folks have moved the industry forward to new boundaries but what they all agree on was that Intellectual Property (IP) should not need permission to be used and technology should be kept simple to keep the industry going strong.

“Thought Leaders” Aza Raskin of Mozilla, Michael Petricone of the CE Assoc. and Ty Roberts of Gracenote

The Fifth Beatle – A statement by Tim Westegren of Pandora must have hit a nerve as it was repeated by two other panelists during the conference. He suggested that all bands should have an additional band member, the 5th Beatle, who would act as the marketing and promotions manager in order to ensure the success of all bands in this world of technology. They would receive a cut of all revenue the band makes. They would deal with all the technology out there; the MySpaces, Facebooks and all the other promotional outlets on the internet that the band simply does not have the time nor care to deal with it. This type of service does exist out there today.

I met a real life 5th Beatle at the conference who does provide this kind of service; Jason Feinberg of On Target MediaOnTarget Media is out there helping bands generate buzz, get traffic, grow email lists and increase sales through editorial reviews, interviews, feature stories, streaming audio/video, mp3 downloads, contests. retail marketing, social networks, lifestyle marketing, blogs, podcasts and online radio. Another such lifesaver for those bands without a major record label deal is Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity who provides a newsletter full of informaton about surviving and succeeding in the business.

“The 5th Beatle” – Jason Feinberg of On Target Media

Ted Kartzman of IODA listens intently to Dave Allen of Pamplemoose

It was a diverse crowd at the conference. There were your usual musicians, now technology types. Educational credits were offered for the Copyright Issues in Music Law and Legal Issues in Searching, Linking & Blogging which pulled in the lawyers. There were also quasi celebrities such as Tim Ferris who wrote The 4-hour Work Week and was interviewed by Derek Sivers of CD Baby. Mile’s Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr., who keeps the Miles Davis Properties music alive. Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable was also present as a Media Sponsor and also covering the event no doubt.

There were some fun and unusual sessions such as the Artist Activism Workshop where Mike Relm, a VJ/Turntablist entertained and shared his video/promoting activism that he usually holds at loud parties. Dave McClure of Master of 500 Hats moderated the Social Networking Platforms & Music. He always creates audience participation and this was no exception. By a show of hands and noise level, he conducted an informal survey to learn which is the most popular music platform out there. It turned out to be Itunes, YouTube followed by MySpace. There was also Mobile and a VC panel followed by 30 Second pitches where anyone and everyone had a chance to gain attention to their service, product, offering or to themselves.

Vince Wilburn, Jr. of the Miles Davis Properties and Karl Wente of Wente Vinyards

A final and much anticipated session called Happy Hour pulled the whole group together to network, drink and hang a bit before the next round of the SanFrancisco MusicTech. Wine from Wente Vinyards, where they also have live concerts, was poured by Karl Wente. I am looking forward to the next SanFran MusicTech Summit. This time I hope they make it in Hawaii after a major conference so I can go there and stay longer.

Dave Ratner of IP & Entertainment Law, Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder of Mashable and Alicia Lin, Business Development of Mashable

Tim Ferris grabbing a much needed glass of wine after a tough 4 day work week.

Good Times at the SanFran Music Tech

Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder of Mashable and Alicia Lin, Business Development of Mashable

Tim Ferris of The 4-Hour Work Week, Elsie Samson of imeem and Jordan Feinstein of The Ritual.

And one more, Shoshana and Brian Zisk!

More pics go to Julie’s page

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by Michelle Lentz
I love it when I wake up in the morning and instantly hear something on my radio that screams “bub.blicio.us post”, even before I get out of bed.  

I wake up to NPR every morning because news will get me out of bed. Music, on the other hand, keeps me in bed longer. I’ll sleep through it. News starts to wake up my brain. This morning, my local publicly-supported radio station was having their spring fund drive and offering “the radio bookmark” as an incentive. That got me out of bed rather quickly – I wanted to know more.

The Radio Bookmark looks like a USB key with buttons, and can be attached to your key ring. You can save and bookmark stories you hear on the radio.

It’s pretty simple, actually. Instead of sitting in your car, waiting for a story to end, you can just bookmark it by hitting one of the buttons. The device records the time and station of your bookmark. When you get to a computer, you can plug in the USB key. It launches a web page displaying your bookmarks, including the story, show, and exactly where you left off so you can start from the middle.

Basically, the device is keyed into specific stations. When you plug it in, it queries those station schedules to find out what happened at a specific time stamp. It’s simple, but brilliant. On the web page you can save, share, and delete, and replay. It also displays additional story information and related stories.

There are a few catches to this nifty little device. Right now, you can only get one by pledging at least $120 to specific public radio stations. It’s also only designed, at the moment, to work with publicly supported radio stations and is subscription based: donate $120 again next year and get another year of bookmarking service. It currently only works with two radio stations, although that’s a beta issue. I was happy to find out that Cincinnati’s WVXU is one of those two stations, as usually we’re behind the curve, not ahead.

When I’m in the car, you’ll usually find me listening to my iPod, Sirius, or WNKU, another publicly-supported local station that plays more alternative music. I think the Radio Bookmark will also be competing against NPR podcasts I can pop onto my iPod. But there are times I need a news fix, or discover a particular show while driving. In those times, it would be great to have a radio bookmark instead of having to sit in my car until there’s a good stopping point in the story.

by Brian Solis, sourced from PR 2.0

Just a bit ago, I wrote a post covering my favorite tools for monitoring conversations on Twitter.

I’d like to add one more to the bunch. Recently launched Summize is similar to TweetScan, but also unique in its capabilities and in turn, changes how we may view and use Twitter search. At the very minimum, it’s a basic search tool that operates similar to how you would naturally search in Yahoo or Google. Both tools bring Twitter alive and expose the layers of conversations taking place that matter to your personal life, your professional brand or the company you may represent.

Developed by Summize Labs, Summize’s mission is to search and discover the topics and attitudes expressed within online conversations.

Summize, provides clean, simple search interface that can be expanded to include more advanced options, similar to Google’s home page, while TweetScan is more of the Yahoo of Twitter search.

For those who are looking for specific content along with emotion, context, location, traffic, or embedded links etc., Summize provides a series of “search operators” to effectively and quickly navigate through the ever-evolving world of micro conversations.

Each search query offers an RSS feed to automatically search and monitor the results as well as the ability to send your results as a Tweet.

The only downside to Summize is that I haven’t noticed an auto-refresh option. It does alert you as new results are found, but you need to manually force it to display them.

Summize Labs is also currently experimenting with a Realtime Twitter Sentiment search tool that locates up-to-the-second tweets about your topic and automatically analyzes and displays the attitudes expressed in those tweets.

All-in-all, I find that I’m using Summize to monitor the conversations that pertain to the companies I’m researching for bub.blicio.us in order to get a real world feedback outside of the echo chamber.

Here are the conversations taking place on Twitter related to Summize and the related sentiment (note: type summize and then search).

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