Google Glass Cracked

November 14, 2014

Google Glass did not revolutionize my life. I am not sure how many people were affected by the craze in a teapot. I can associate Glass with a shattered life. Think psychiatric ministrations, self harm, and chemicals. Yikes! I read “Google Glass Future Clouded as Some Early Believers Lose Faith.” It appears that “real” journalists at Yahoo have open a case containing Google Glass.

I noted this passage as one of interest:

Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations. And a Glass funding consortium created by Google Ventures and two of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture capitalists, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, quietly deleted its website, routing users to the main Glass site.

The write up paints a picture of a much hyped product that seems to lack magnetism. My hunch is that Google lacked the magic touch required to create a successful retail product. Too bad about the scorched earth the Glass comet created as it ploughed into a bean field in Salinas.

But good news. Giant virtual reality headsets are coming. Really.

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2014

BrainWare Combines Gaming and Cognitive Skill Development

January 4, 2013

With the holiday season fast approaching, many are looking to purchase video games to satisfy the need for fun for many on their list. However, coupling gaming and cognitive skill development, an offering by BrainWare Safari, is worth a look. The company received raving reviews recently in “Review: Fun Learning Tool Designed to Boost Cognitive Skills” on Blackline Review, which focused on the software program that combines neuroscience with video game technology to strengthen cognitive skills.

However, the importance of such technology goes far beyond just a fun gift or study helper. We learn:

“An improvement in cognitive skills expands the functionality of the human brain and prepares users to learn and excel in both the classroom and work environment.  According to a white paper by Eric Hanushek, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and an expert on educational policy:  ‘We provide evidence that the robust association between cognitive skills and economic growth reflects a causal effect of cognitive skills…countries that improved their cognitive skills over time experienced relative increases in their growth paths.’”

The product received an overall rating of 8.2 from the recent review, including the highest ranking of 10 in the categories of Product/Service, Value Proposition, Market Size, Revenue Model, and Proof of Concept. We hope this product sets a precedent for including these types of skills in the learning process with an appeal to the gamer in all of us.

Andrea Hayden, January 04, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

How Sellers Manipulate Consumers

August 19, 2012

The Atlantic has also taken note of the study from the Journal of Marketing which revealed how weak consumers are in the face of math, specifically when considering a choice between paying less or getting more. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson goes beyond that quandary to look at ten more vulnerabilities sellers exploit in “The 11 Ways that Consumers are Hopeless at Math.” Basically, consumers are easy to manipulate because most of us don’t know what anything is truly worth.

I recommend reading the article to fleece-proof yourself. A few points that stood out to me: Stores know that everything is relative; if you pass a wickedly overpriced handbag, you are more likely to go for the only wildly overpriced watch you spot next. Also, when faced with three choices of a similar product, consumers usually opt for the middle one whether it is really the best deal or not. On top of it all, we still fall for prices that end in the number 9. My favorite passage regards the power of emotion to direct purchasing decisions:

“In a brilliant experiment from Poundstone’s book, volunteers are offered a certain number of dollars out of $10. Offers seen as ‘unfair’ ($1, let’s say) activated the insula cortex, ‘which is otherwise triggered by pain and foul odors.’ When we feel like we’re being ripped off, we literally feel disgusted — even when it’s a good deal. Poundstone equates this to the minibar experience. It’s late, you’re hungry, there’s a Snickers right there, but you’re so turned off by the price, that you starve yourself to avoid the feeling of being ripped off. The flip-side is that bargains literally make us feel good about ourselves. Even the most useless junk in the world is appealing if the price feels like a steal.”

Yes, and so online pricing has become a veritable playground for clever folks. Now about the fees charged for online search services. . . .

Cynthia Murrell, August 19, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Power and Behavior: Amazon, Apple, eBay, Google, and Microsoft

August 11, 2012

I like the yip yap about choice. Search means Google for most of the 99 percent who know about online. Amazon means books. Sure, there is push back from publishers and Barnes & Nobile, but Amazon is the game. Too bad about the company’s inability to control its costs as it searches for world domination. eBay has been hanging in there. There is the wonderful PayPal service. I pay and maybe the Account information displays what I did. Well, maybe not. And there is adorable Microsoft. The IBM to the generations of computer users born after 1980.

Let’s take a quick look at the possible correlations between power and behavior.

Fights are simplified when there is one antagonist and one protagonist. Child-like in their simplicity.

First, navigate to the PCMag.com, a publication which does fewer product reviews and more “I wanna be a pundit” writing than when I worked at Ziff Communications, the outfit which owned the original PC Magazine. The story is “Microsoft’s Massive Metro Mistake.” The main idea is that Microsoft did not do a trademark search. The more interesting information in the write up is the allegation that Microsoft wants to shove the new pointy-and-clicky interface down the developers’, the users’ and the enterprise licensees’ throat. Got it. Power. Microsoft is a big outfit, a slightly updated version of IBM. Microsoft once was computing. The fear of losing market share, revenue, and clout seems to be the motivation behind the Draconian actions assigned to Microsoft. My view? Er, what’s new here?

Second, check out “The Bottom Line on Apple and YouTube.” A real journalist turned video management wizard asserts that Apple’s dumping of YouTube in the next Apple mobile operating system is a good thing. Yep, lemons become lemonade. My view is that Apple is throwing its considerable weight around. Neither Samsung nor Google intimidate the Infinity boys and girls. Apple pretty much has money and the idea that it can do what it wants. No problem. My view? Er, what’s new here?

Read more

AOL to Redirect Patch from Local News to Local Ads

August 3, 2012

The light bulb has gone on at AOL regarding troubled property Patch: forget local news and do ads instead. Digital Trends ponders, “Patch Restructuring to Turn Into a Craigslist Competitor?

The planned overhaul of Patch promises to mirror Craigslist. CEO Tim Armstrong spun the changes this way—he says the new version of Patch “is really about unlocking the vitality in towns… groups, commerce, and the social aspects of towns for a much deeper, richer engagement level.” A nice turn of phrase, that.

Writer Molly McHugh notes some possible consequences of the shift. She observes:

“Realigning its product from hyper-local news to hyper-local commerce is a pretty big pivot, and one that would affect the many, many freelance writers Patch employs. Not to mention the fact that taking on Craigslist is a formidable task: despite any of the collective Internet’s problems with Craigslist and its refusal to massively update its interface and become even incrementally more user-friendly, Craigslist has time on its side. When it comes to a crowd-sourced platform, that’s a major investment.”

Indeed, AOL is wise to capitalize on the local connections it has built through local advertising. Still, the loss of local news blogs is a shame.

Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Microsoft Bing Brings in the PR SWAT Team

July 30, 2012

Apparently a SWAT Team is just what the doctor ordered in the case of Microsoft’s consumer initiatives.

Microsoft is calling upon former Clinton advisor and PR maven Mark Penn to lead a “SWAT Team” focused on consumer initiatives and developing strategic development and branding to meet consumers’ changing needs. The first target of the team will be Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

A recent article on ReadWriteWeb, “Microsoft Assembling “SWAT Team” to Boost Bing,” tells us more about Microsoft’s decision and Penn’s focus in the company. The article reports:

“‘Mark has an incredible background in research, demographics, marketing and positioning and a proven history in developing unique insights that drive success,’ [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer said in a statement. ‘With a strong set of products and an exciting pipeline for the next year, Mark’s experience and out-of-the-box thinking will help us more effectively reach new consumers and grow market share.’

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, Bing is still holding steady at second in popularity to search king Google. Searching has become synonymous with “Googling,” and Penn has his work cut out for him. I wonder if someone in Microsoft management used a decision engine to answer the question, “How do we catch Google in search?” Perhaps Penn will be the answer.

Andrea Hayden, July 30, 2012

Sponsored by IKANOW

Google: More Like Apple?

March 4, 2012

You may know about “more like this.” Well, we think Google has a twist on this search feature. We call it “more like Apple.”

Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported on a new move that Google is planning in hopes of beating out Apple once and for all in the article “Google’s Real Estate Plans Hint It Wants to Own Your Living Room.”

The article argues that while Google has had incredible success in getting other companies to utilize its Android software, the search giant will never be able to out compete Apple until it starts making its own hardware as well. This is where Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola comes into play.

The article states:

“Though patents were one reason for the purchase, increasingly there are signs that Google will use Motorola to create a more integrated, Apple-esque approach. According to documents unearthed by the San Jose Mercury News, the company is building huge hardware-testing labs, including pricey anechoic chambers for testing the performance of antennae on mobile devices.”

This is definitely a risky move for an already very successful company. The real question is, is Google capable of being Apple? Heck, is Google even capable of preventing encroachment by Amazon, Microsoft, and Yandex?

Jasmine Ashton, March 4, 2012

Sponsored by Pandia.com

Libraries vs. Universities: Who Gets Funded?

February 29, 2012

As the economy struggles to recover, many of our educational institutions are forced to bear the brunt of budget cuts. A recent tumblr blog post entitled “Save the Libraries. Cut University Funding Instead” responds to the recent decision made by California’s state government to cut library funding rather than raise taxes.

The post argues that while libraries often get lumped in with universities the two are actually very different in regards to serving the poor, providing valuable community services, and being impartial.

After laying out these points, the writer concludes:

“Yes, university funding has already seen some cuts, but I’d rather see more cuts to universities and fewer cuts to libraries. They’re not the same thing. One of these systems claims to serve the poor, be open to differing viewpoints, and drive greater knowledge and learning for all humankind. The other actually does all of these things.”

While this writer makes some valid points regarding the problems with higher education, I think that pitting universities and libraries against one another is simply distracting us from the problem at hand. Neither of these institutions should have their budgets cut because they both provide valuable services to our society. But libraries need patrons who want information. With iPads and TV, subpar reading skills, and budget cuts—libraries are expendable it seems.

Jasmine Ashton, February 29, 2012

Sponsored by Pandia.com

Google Offers Free Websites For New York Businesses?

November 26, 2011

Search Engine Watch reported this week on website services in the article “Websites are Now  Free For New York Businesses.”

According to the article, as a way to promote Google’s services to New York businesses, Google is now offering free websites as part of a deal they have made with the website building firm Intuit http://websitebuilder.intuit.com/icom-clone-sweeney&cid=IG61002 to get more local businesses online. In conjunction with the new product, Google is also holding events throughout the state to provide people with information about online marketing.

Google’s Website states:

“Small businesses are vital to America’s economic future; the nation’s 27.5M small businesses comprise half the US GDP and create two-thirds of all new jobs. While 97% of Americans look online for local products and services, 52% of New York small businesses do not have a website. That’s a lot of small businesses that are virtually invisible to potential customers looking online.”

Since web hosting and domain names are cheap as it is, Google can make more money from selling ad space on these free websites. Both Google and small businesses can increase their profits through this deal. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Jasmine Ashton, November 26, 2011

Google Predicts Video Games’ Successes

October 11, 2011

With Christmas, and more importantly Christmas shopping, approaching rapidly it’s no surprise that a recent article titled, Game On: Search Queries Provide Predictive Analytics,on Media Post News, has surfaced.  The article explains the correlation between online searches for upcoming releases of video games and their sales.
As the article details,
An increase in searches for game titles on Google and YouTube signal an awareness of the titles and the desire to acquire them, providing insight into sales. Google analyzed search activity for title terms of the top 15 games of 2010 and 2009, such as “Call of Duty,” “Black Ops,” and “COD Black Ops,” on Google and YouTube. The average search activity per title in 2010 rose 24% on Google and 28% on YouTube, jumping 25% in overall search activity.
With analysis of search queries available to businesses of all sizes, it will be interesting to see how this connection can be used to target particular audiences, improve marketing campaigns and aid video game companies in choosing new games to development.  With a predicted 15% of all holiday money spent going to video games there is a lot to gain or lose.  Perhaps these new indicators of consumer buying will guide decision making for video game producers.
 
Catherine Lamsfuss, October 11, 2011

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