Is HTML5 going to be the final knock-out for Flash

HTML5 is winning the media war!

HTML5 is winning the media war!

The Woes for Adobe Flash are deepening.

The popular Media file creator, player and website building tool is loosing fast ground to HTML5. More and more companies including Google, Apple and fortune 500 companies are turning their back on Adobe’s Trademark media player and development tool.

Google announced recently that Google Gears (a helper program to run web applications on your desktop) will no longer actively support the development of Gears which is based on Adobe’s Flash functionality. Google’s Statement is far reaching since a host of Google applications including Google Earth heavily rely on  Gears and thus Adobe’s Flash application.

But the buck doesn’t stop there since Google’s sidekick Youtube uses adobe’s Flash player to convert video files into Flash video.

The multi million dollar question is if YouTube is going to drop the flash player as well.

Recent rumors in the YouTube camp hint that Flash will also be traded in for HTML5.

Now what is HTML5 you may ask.

without becoming technical the HTML language (HyperText Markup Language) is the cornerstone of building visual websites on the internet. The current language HTML 4.1 is slowly coming of age and reaching its limits.

As with everything in life, standardization is what makes things simplified. Since HTML, the worldwide standard to displaying internet content, is the standard, a logical evolution of the same language (HTML) is almost inevitable.

When HTML 4 was introduced back in December of 1999, multimedia (video, audio) was still in its infancy and thus was never part of integration in the HTML standard. Flash development changed this but it also meant that other languages now needed to become part of the compliance process of displaying its content (video).

Although Adobe Flash evolved over time and has become a powerful language, it has several major drawbacks.

Foremost it is image based (like a start and stop playing of a video) and not one search engine can “read” images. Google, Bing, Ask and Yahoo can only read text.  The second drawback is that flash introduces many vulnerable openings for hackers to take advantage of since the language is not native to HTML and in many instances create conflicts like the French Canadians have with the English Canadians. Although most understand eachother through translation, yet it is prone to misunderstandings. Flash introduces the same problem inside of HTML.

The Introduction of HTML5 is near.

HTML5 is going to be the new standard on the internet and incorporates the missing links of video and audio embedding natively. Natively means that it does not need any translators to talk to a foreign language (Flash) and thus closing hacker vulnerabilities prior introduced by Flash inside of HTML.

Why is Adobe in trouble and the cracks are showing

The adobe media player introduced just a short while back (about 18 months ago) has vanished as a free download from the site (or at least it is very difficult to find). Adobe stated that its media player was facing too many copyright infringement hurdles to actively partake in the media wars of becoming the video player of choice. Yet it is becoming clear that many companies have chosen to drop Flash in favor of HTML5 full well knowing that billions are going to be saved by not having to worry about hackers breaking into their sites. But more importantly, providing a seamless experience to their website visitors.

What does this mean for Amelia Island?

It means that many websites completely built in Adobe Flash will suffer within the next two years obsolescence since it is expected that modern browsers such as Safari, Chrome, Opera and Firefox will abandon the support for Flash seeing that their vulnerabilities will diminish extensively while running much leaner in their code and thus  content delivery (much faster running web browsers). Even Microsoft, although steadily loosing market user share for its Internet Explorer, has announced that it will no longer actively support Flash in the future.

Mobile Websurfing will be the big winner when Adobe flash is replaced by HTML5 since video content demands a lot of power computing resources from all smartphones and Flash is the biggest culprit.

Who are the big winners.

The internet Browsing population
foremost since virus, spyware and phishing attacks will be decimated when Flash is no longer part of the language “barrier”. On the technical and commercial end the big winners will be Apple and Microsoft with respectively Quicktime and the .MOV H.264 compression scheme and Microsoft’s Silverlining Media player while DivX will also get a chance to claim a piece of the pie. Although YouTube started experimenting with HTML some call for true OpenSource codecs and the last word is not yet written about it. Google and YouTube have decided to play it safe and recently closed the deal on acquiring On 2.

However the main reason why Google prefers to stick to Quicktime H.264 codec is that most videos in High Definition are uploaded in this codec which means that the YouTube giant uses tremendous resources to convert the most used standard (H.264 HD) to convert into Flash or in case it decides to use the On 2 codec while the approx. 20 hours of video that are now uploaded every minute of the day to YouTube would hardly require any conversion if Youtube decides to use the H.264 standard.

Here is where financial reason will have to decide vs. opensource sentiments  however the law of economy will weigh in heavily in favor of NOT having to convert video into an opensource codec (Youtube goes already through hell converting all those 20 hours of video per minute submissions of HD video into Flash).

Additionally we can expect a whole slew of new entrants developing media players that are in compliance to HTML5 and thus the last word is not yet uttered.

Bottomline is: The internet users are going to be the big winners.  But what about Adobe? It has some great products such as Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat, but on the Media player end it will take a big hit.

Lady Gaga is Madonna on Steroids

Lady Gaga and Cindi Lauper for Viva Glam

Lady Gaga and Cindi Lauper for Viva Glam

This week I’m spending a lot of time researching, analyzing and comparing the various ways businesses can use social media marketing. I’m not necessarily talking about the little intricacies that finetune campaigns and promotions, but I’m investigating how far social media have taken over the spectrum of product branding.
While doing so I ran into, I cannot phrase it any better, a phenomenon that is Lady Gaga.

Now let me make this clear up front, I’m a 60s and 70s blues rocker with absolutely nothing in common with today’s pop music. Don’t serve me rap or whatever sweet pop, middle of the road creepiness, I am a blues rocker who wants to hear a guitars, loud and prominent with piercings and sustains; you know the old balls to the wall rock ‘n’ roll.
But this 23 year old kid in war colors has beaten me and most industry professionals to the ground when it comes to reaching her peeps with social media.

And OMG (never used this abbreviation before) she certainly answers the age-old question as to who owns the customer, the brand or the retailer. Lady Gaga is proof that if the brand owner understands its customer, controls how the message is delivered, and engages with the customer in a regular and meaningful manner, they will own the customer as long as the product is relevant.
Great example as to how social media democratizes marketing for brands, no matter their size.

As far as breakout musicians go, few artists have had quite the zero-awareness-to-ubiquity time-warp of Lady Gaga. And as far as brands go, few marketers of any kind have leveraged social media the way she has to drive sales of their core product — in her case, albums and digital singles.
But when she and historic diva Cyndi Lauper teamed up to bring the world Lady Gaga’s Viva Glam lipsticks,  have outsold every launch in the line’s history.
Lady Gaga, with her army of nearly 2.8 million Twitter followers and more than 5.2 million Facebook fans, can move product. Since fall 2008, her digital-single sales have exceeded 20 million and her album sales hit 8 million, all at a time when no one under the age of 60 buys CDs anymore.

Now, she’s being courted by marketers to do the same for their products.
Gaga’s rapid ascent to the pop-culture stratosphere is often compared to Madonna’s, right down to their shared beginnings in the downtown New York club scene before their big record deals. But what makes Gaga’s star status, particularly in the marketing community, so uniquely 2010 is that she has achieved as many milestones (if not more) in 18 months than her Madonna did in nearly a decade. Madonna’s notorious endorsement for Pepsi in 1989 — cut short after her controversial “Like a Prayer” video aired on MTV — came seven years after the debut of her first single in 1982. Within a year of her out-of-the-box rise to fame in September 2008, Gaga had already lined up Virgin Mobile as a sponsor of her Monster Ball tour; created her own brand of headphones, Hearbeats by Lady Gaga, with record label Interscope; and landed her own (cherry pink) lipstick as a spokeswoman for Mac Cosmetics’ Viva Glam, benefiting Mac’s AIDS fund. And by January, she was tapped by Polaroid to become the brand’s creative director, hired specifically to create new products and inject life into a brand that hasn’t been cool for years.

How did a 23-year-old singer/songwriter achieve so much in so little time? Two words: social media. Sure, Gaga had a fair share of old-school artist development — radio play — to become the first artist to score four consecutive No. 1 singles from a debut album. But she’s also put a new-media spin on her distribution strategy. The November premiere of her video for “Bad Romance,” for example, debuted on before MTV or any other outlet could play it — resulting in a Universal Music server crash, a Twitter trending topic that lasted all week and a cumulative 110 million (and counting) views on YouTube to date. Vevo, a music video site co-founded by Universal Music Group, also recently reported a whopping 20% of its traffic came from just Lady Gaga videos — as in 1 in 5 videos streamed on the site was likely to be a song such as “Poker Face,” “Just Dance” or “LoveGame.”

Gaga has already had a similar halo effect on her Mac Viva Glam lipstick. Less than a week into its launch, the lipsticks created by Gaga and her campaign cohort Cyndi Lauper have outsold any launch in Viva Glam’s 16-year history, said Estée Lauder Group President John Demsey, thanks to a groundswell of social-media impressions. The launch day of her Viva Glam lipstick ad campaign alone generated nearly 20 million unique views in traditional media, including print and web buys and an appearance on “The Today Show,” as well as an additional wellspring of social-media hits per Gaga’s tweets to her fans.

Everyone close to her realizes several reasons for this explosive arrival on the scene: first of all the young lady seems to have a complete natural understanding of the market she operates in and secondly “Gaga has worked tirelessly in keeping up daily if not hourly communication with her fans and growing a fanbase through all the technology that exists now.”
Will she burn out? Probably. But for now she beats every expert out there, when it comes to understanding and applying social media marketing.

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Are You Using the Right Social Media for your Business?

Social Media and the Risk of Wasting Your Time

Social Media and the Risk of Wasting Your Time

The best explanation I have heard so far about Social Media classification is the following: Twitter is a cocktail party, Facebook is a Reunion and LinkedIn is a professional conference. In understandable language we can picture the base value of these tools for our business. Once you become more familiar with these three frontrunners, which can easily be expanded to a long list of less popular but often more niche market oriented tools, you will learn diverse ways to target markets on Facebook more cost effectively than Google Adwords and Pay per Click. You will also find more accurate conversion opportunities on LinkedIn and Twitter without spending 4 hours or more daily on social sites.

Search Amelia’s Free Monday Night Lectures

During our first two free social media seminars in recent weeks we often heard the remark of not having time to do all this social work on a daily basis. Yet many people have been told and expect to make tons of money by using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as marketing tools.
Yet at the current level, the vast majority of people are NOT making money with social media and are just wasting their time and that leaves the question:

What are they doing wrong?

To get you on the path of profitable social media use, I have identified the most important pitfalls that lead to wasting time with social media. Here are they with some qualified solutions:

Business Model
Contrary to popular belief a social media in itself, is not a business model. Building a following is great, but until you figure out how to make money with that following, you are spinning your wheels.

Here is what you need to do:
•    Identify the exact product or service you want to sell through social media and focus on that exclusively
•    Exactly pinpoint and profile your perfect customer
•    Develop a system that combines closing sales on the phone, on the Web, or face to face

Social Media Strategy
You do need a strategy that spells out actions and timelines for using social media to achieve specific business goals. Without it, you will get lost in irrelevance to your bottomline

Here is what you need to do:
•    First identify your top three goals with social media (lead generation, find partners and affiliates, solidify existing relationships).
•    Set hard time frames for achieving these goals.

Selecting the Right Tools
It’s easy to make the mistake of using the wrong tool. Some businesses work better on LinkedIn, some are better on Facebook and some are better on Twitter. Remember what I said in the opening: Twitter is a cocktail party, Facebook is a Reunion and LinkedIn is a professional conference. There are different levels of trust here.

Here is what you need to do:
•    Spend a couple of hours on all of the major social media websites. Type in keywords that pertain to your business and see what happens
•    Contact a number of your customers or prospects and ask them which one of these websites they visit most frequently.

Social Network Etiquette
There is a difference between a second hand car salesman and a previously owned car sales consultant. Be pushy and the social media will discard of you faster than you can say: I didn’t mean it. If you are making too many posts, sending too many messages, and ignoring standard social networking etiquette, you will be avoided as the plague. Learn the rules and how to follow them.

Here is what you need to do:
•    Be decent, be honest, be relevant, be nice. Learn the rules of the particular site you are on. Know that Facebook can ban you for posting unauthorized commercial communications.
•    Learn about the limitations of the site you are on. Twitter limits the number of direct messages you can send to 250 a day. In my personal opinion that would constitute 4-5 hours on Twitter alone, never mind the idea of producing something helpful and intelligent.

The Big Burn Out
It’s called social media fatigue and it happens when you are spending way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn — often not all of it business-related. You will burn out a. from sheer exhaustion or b. from lack of results. A social media hoarder quickly becomes fanatic.

Here is what you need to do:
•    Put a time limit on your daily social media activities. 20 to 30 minutes should be enough to produce the results you’re looking for. If you need more time, assign someone else. Your assistant, secretary, sales man, wife, child. No matter. Delegate and supervise the consistency of the message.
•    Dedicate all of that time to activities that could generate business for you.

Measure Your Results
The internet is all about being able to measure results. I always say that the internet allows you to fail fast, so you can get up fast and restart something different fast. If you elect to forgo that huge advantage, you may as well go back to the 20th century
If you don’t measure against your objectives, you don’t know what’s working and what time you’re wasting.

Here is what you need to do:
•    Set very specific measurable goals. For example, you might want to get 10 new prospects a week and turn four of them into a new customer. Or if you’re working on your website’s hit counter or ranking, work on increasing visitor time spent on the site, conversion, discount or anything that can be measured as a success.
•    Start measuring your results daily — and keep refining your strategy until you get it right.

One of the best known examples of someone who profited from social media is Gary Vaynerchuk, the super star of Wine Library TV. Gary effectively leveraged the power of social media to explode the sales and profits of his family’s almost defunct wine business 5 years ago. 850,000 Twitter followers later the business skyrocketed from $4 million a year to $60 million year.  In the process he and his brother formed a social media consultancy company and are now advising dozens of corporate entities on successful social media strategies.
His approach is simple but steady, spend 50% of your daily allotted internet time on content and 50% on promoting the content.
You can do that too. If you’re interested in learning how, than you’ll be happy to know that SearchAmelia is organizing its 3rd Free Social Media Lecture for Monday, March 1 from 6-8pm at Fernandeli’s on 8th Street in town.

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Google is at it again, but now it is different

Good Idea....Bad Name?

Good Idea....Bad Name?

Google has finally learned that you need to do what you do best, better than anyone. And for Google that is organizing Web content by relevancy. After several attempts to enter the social media market and having openly admitted that social giants like Facebook and Twitter are in a position to become serious competitors for the world’s advertising budgets, Google has finally figured that their advantage lies in apply it’s organizational prowess to social media, which is probably the most disorganized segment of the current Web.

Google Buzz is its most ambitious attempt to do just that by marrying the Gmail Web interface with status updates and media-sharing technology in an attempt to convince the social media addicts of the world to spend more time on Google’s sites than on competitors Facebook or Twitter; and of course generating valuable data in the process.

Why they couldn’t be a bit more creative than coming up with the term Google Buzz (Yahoo Buzz anyone??) is beyond me, unless the nerds are freshly out of ideas, but using their knowledge and experience to organize the social information on the Web is a Google-scale problem. Facebook alone generates 39 billion page views a month, underlining that an astounding amount of social-media content is produced every day. Add that to a handful of other SMS giants such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and personal blogs, and Google’s initial mission statement that it could one day index and organize the entire Internet has been shaken to the core by this explosion in Web content.

So the prevalent thought is that somebody has to try and do it, and that might as well be Google, arguably the only global web operation that could even dare to think that it can be done. The company’s credo is now: “We can’t achieve Google’s mission unless we solve these parts of that problem.”

However, they see not only an opportunity to unify the social Web and make things easier for users, but a chance to erode Facebook’s advantage in the mountains of user data it has amassed behind closed walls that Google–and Google’s advertisers–can’t see. The only way they’ll be able to do that is by creating a system that is as compelling and easy to use as Facebook.
And Google is attempting to do this by taking Gmail, one of its more popular products, and integrating Buzz directly into the Gmail interface. Users can link their Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, and Google Reader accounts to their Buzz streams to see information produced by friends on those networks, as well as updates posted directly to the Buzz stream.

The real big step forward may be Google’s ambition to put Buzz on the road; the mobile future of information dispensing that allows social media to be combined with location, so phone users ill have a wealth of data about what’s happening around them and get in on the location-aware services bandwagon, provided some privacy issues are cleared in advance.
Google has hired everal veterans of the social Web to underline how important it is for the company to get a solid social media strategy. The new team and Google’s executives are promising a lot more to come in addition to services like Buzz over the course of 2010 in the hope that it will erase the memories of Google spotted past as a social-media operator.

The biggest threat to Google’s ambitions however will depend on the willingness of the users to give more personal information on preferences and predictability of Internet use, than Google already has backed up in its vaults.

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Tragic death of brother discovered via Facebook

Social Media as Carrier of Bad News

Social Media as Carrier of Bad News

Birthday Twins find out about their teen brother’s death on Facebook. Social Media is by far outpacing the speed of the traditional media,  police and emergency networks and this should give us reason to rethink how news enters our lives.

The shock these two girls endured to find out on their early morning Facebook wall in search for the first happy birthday wishes no one really can imagine. Instead of finding happy birthday wishes, the  twins found messages of “RIP Bobby” (their brother) and “RIP Chris Naylor” (a friend of his) all across their Facebook news feeds. Completely shocked, baffled, and hurt, the two rang their brother’s phone in the hopes it was a mistake. It was to no avail.

Next, they rang their mother. While she didn’t receive any word from the police or others about Bobby or Chris Naylor, she did know that Bobby was with his friend that night. After a call to the police, they confirmed what they had learned on Facebook: that Bobby Vourlis was dead. He passed away along with Chris Naylor in a fatal car accident that also took the life of a third teenage passenger.

You can read the whole heartbreaking story over at the Daily Telegraph, but it’s clear that the real-time nature of the web spread information far faster than even the police or phone calls could. While we understand it takes time to identify victims and send an officer to a residence to inform family of the news, the process can simply take too long in today’s world.

Our sympathy goes out to the families that got such a rude awakening.

[Source CNET]

Will this be an incidental occurrence?

It is clear that we have to rethink the old school notification process, yet there is simply no way to halt the shear instantaneous new feeds via the internet. The process of “live crime in action” and “reporting while the news unfolds” with mobile technology increasingly providing us text messaging, micro blogging via Twitter and very soon live video streaming becoming available to the masses where unaltered and unedited news will spread like a wildfire in all of its extreme graphical content.

Our socially protected upbringing will be rattled at the core of its foundation rendering Rating systems such as PG, PG-13, PG-17, R, M and Rated-X for movies and documentaries a farce compared to what will enter our lives via online television such as YouTube, DailyMotion, HULU, and many more that will sprout up from all these soon to come “Live-feeds”.

It is high time that we start thinking in realistic terms how our society deals with this ever increasing speed of news spread and as a side effect the “unrated version” becoming mainstream reality TV.

Can we ban or block out the “Uncut” Rated-R version?

I’m afraid that our 15 year long Ostrich policy by living in denial about the shear spread of acceptance of the internet as a prime news source has put us all in a disadvantage in even slowing down the process. Slowing down technological developments is not something we want to encourage at this crucial time in an economic crisis as it could very well be the glue that will hold people and nations together and prevention of acting out desperate deeds. The Internet will be the watchdog stopping heads of state to push buttons they should not have been given access to in the first place, but we must live with these realities. Like the reality of “the button” we will have to live by new standards that will show the unrated versions in all of its gory details. We better get used to this, because it will not go away.

There’s a historical note to all of this: “The tighter societies pull on the leash with restrictive and protective measures the more vicious the reality of life will shock us.

Social Media Giant Digg Does Interview with Toyota CEO

Toyota Recall Questions on Digg

Toyota Recall Questions on Digg

Digg has an interesting approach to using their internet popularity in eliciting audience participating through what is called crowd sourcing.  The way it is done takes the following approach:

1. An announcement that a certain celebrity is going to be interviewed on a certain date (no more than 3 or 4 days in the future)
2. Open the gates for questions to be asked during the interview and have these  questions digged.

3. Select the 10 most digged questions and video tape the interview and the answers. Check it out here.
To date Digg has interviewed 14 celebrities and authorities  such as Matt Damon, Trent Reznor, Al Gore, Tim Geithner, Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson, Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and several more.

The next interview should be a very interesting one with Toyota USA President Jim Lentz.

It should be important to everyone who owns a Toyota on recall to find some answers. If you go to the following link you can ask your question.

Crowd sourcing is a process that is only possible through a quick computerized analytical app. Once that is perfected we may have found the solution to end big government, as all questions can be put before us, the people, at 8pm every evening, have the numbers crunched overnight and the people who are supposed to execute our wishes have their answers and walking papers at 8am the next morning.

Shall we start talking net neutrality now?

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Disqus commenting system seems to have a small server problem

Commenting system down

Commenting system down

The normally highly reliable Disqus commenting system seems to have some server issues this morning. In most cases when reading an article while the disqus system is down the normal commenting system will kick in allowing you to comment.

Technology is not always 100% fail safe, especially when interactive media comes into play pulling information from across the net. Most modern Web 2.0 sites are highly interlinked using the latest technology, but it also means that if a glitch occurs it will affect the normal functioning of the website. Even Google has time-outs once and a while.

When commenting in the regular system, once the disqus system is back-up, will be inserted and updated automatically in their system. So don’t shy away from leaving a comment. SearchAmelia likes to see your opinion.

iPad is the official name, iMagic is the official branding

iPad from Apple - Click image to enlarge

iPad from Apple - Click image to enlarge

Apple released today the long anticipated Kindle competitor called iPad. For me, the most revealing note to the hype that was built over the past several months was that the moment the name iPad was revealed. As a result Twitter went into “overload” and actually locked-up up for several minutes and according to generated 175,000 tweets in the first hour (which is equal to 3,000 tweets per minute) with a stabilizing amount of tweets in the after hours of around 75,000 – 100,000 per hour. According to this was one of the single largest tweet exchanges ever.

Now what is so important about the twitter lock-up? Firstly it establishes the inalienable facet that social networks are taking the core lead in media reporting coverage through empowerment of people’s opinions, one facet that keeps reiterating, and secondly that the world is already far more connected than we dare to assume.

Why is Apple’s iPad iMagic?

Some say that the iPad is only an iPhone with a large backlit screen and running the same applications as the iPhone and thus instill  doubt that the iPad will actually take over the e-Book market share from Amazon’s Kindle, while others express shortcomings of the iPad’s battery life and requiring a subscription to be G3 connected vs. the Kindle’s free Wifi connection and a week’s worth of battery life. There may be some thruth to those facets but Apple’s iPad is not an e-Book reader alone such as the Kindle and almost all other e-book readers. The developers of Apple Inc. have done something far beyond the comprehension of a mere e-Book reader.

If you’re only interested in reading books, the Kindle most certainly should be your instrument of choice. However if your ambitions are to read the up-to-date news, stay informed about the latest developments within the social media as a news medium, surf the web in an unprecedented way by “Touch” and get an almost full size keyboard and some 130,000 Applications ranging from entertainment to education to communications the possibilities and capabilities are almost infinite and iMagic comes to mind.

iPad, the door opener to a new set of business and education applications.

I’m not a gamer. I don’t think I ever even opened one game on my laptop(s) and the iPad is not going to change that for me, but there are many that love games. Power to them since the iPad will deliver it in stunning size and visuals. The movie fans will get their fair share of opportunity on the iPad with access to some 100,000 movies, shows and TV episodes right out of the box via iTunes.

No, what to me is the most invaluable asset introduced by the iPad is that it will change higher education and business applications forever. Educational “paper” books will become obsolete and replaced by interactive full color, multimedia enhanced books, thesis, compendia, encyclopedia, and course materials updated with the latest information and most importantly can be visually enhanced with full screen video. Humans by design are “visual” learners an for more than 4 decades we know that if you read a page the moment you turn it you have retained 5% of the content, when you are audio “connected to the content we retain 25-30% of the content but when we are visually exposed to educational and business content we retain 65% (still imaging) to 95% (motion) of the content.

This will all be possible with the Applications either in existence or developed for educational purposes and business use. There may be people that expected more, like a build-in camera for video conferencing, a USB port, an SD slot, multitasking and other personal desires but for me Apple is on the right track focusing on the right target group while giving those that have grumbles over the missing parts still enough reason to buy this marvel of technology and aesthetics. Get real,  the Apple iPad is not a full fledged laptop computer for $499 – $899 and it was not supposed to be else it would cannibalize on its own laptop range.

Pope goes Social

Pope Benedict XVI urges preiest to Blog!

Pope Benedict XVI urges priest to Blog!

The 265th Pope of the Catholic church, Pope Benedict XVI, has send out a message to all priests in the Church: “We must blog to proclaim the gospel”.

“New Challenges face the Catholic Church an we must spread the gospel by the modern tools available to us”, according to Pope Benedict in a message using the YouTube ChanneliPhone Apps a blog (pope2you) and yes even a Facebook account. Twitter is still absent from the Vatican’s social list but we expect that soon the religious tweets will be flying back and forth as well.

“Reaching young believers can only be accomplished by being where they spend their time and converse.” according to the Pope’s message. “We must reach out and be multimedia savvy but telling, showing and interacting with our believers”. “We must be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the gospel, by employing the latest generation of audio-visual resources” in the Pope’s address.

I wish that many business would be this insightful as the “Holy See” most certainly got his marketing strategy correct.

Additional Security flaws found in Internet Explorer


Internet Explorer plagued with new security flaws

Microsoft’s cage is really getting rattled these days. The earlier reported security flaws to which the software giant finally released a “fix” a complete new set of security flaws have emerged.

After reports from the French and German governments and Chinese hackers that where able to collect personal data via Internet Explorer from Google employees, it now seems that the Fix has created another set of security risks that could put an attacker in control of your computer.

Yes that’s right. The software giant created a multitude of smaller security holes by “fixing the previous security risks” and if a hacker knows his/her way around and exploits several of the minor risks at one and the same time it will put him/her in control of your computer.

Microsoft’s first reaction is as always a standard release: “Microsoft is investigating a responsibly disclosed vulnerability in Internet Explorer and we are currently unaware of any attacks trying to use the vulnerability and believe that customers are at reduced risk due to responsible disclosure“.

What Microsoft is saying here is that because they issue a standard press release you should feel a lot safer and protected. It sounds to us that the company has gone from being a software developer to a Swiss Cheese maker. If IE-6 was bad with almost daily security breaches found in their dominant browser, IE 8 is not faring any better. It’s actually getting worse since these security breaches are not on the level of virus infections anymore but are now on the level of harvesting complete hard drive content from the unsuspecting user.

Until Microsoft gets their act together we suggest our readers to use Mozilla Firefox or Safari

See related stories:

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Internet Explorer responsible for spyware and massive computer infection

Be Warned: Internet Explorer is the culprit

Be Warned: Internet Explorer is the culprit

After the official German Security agency announcement last week that all German internet users should refrain from using any version – IE6, IE7 or IE8 – of Microsoft’s Internet browser, Now Le Certa, the French Internet Security Agency has issued the exact same warning to all French internet Users.

Both agencies go actually as far as stating that only Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari Browsers are recommended to limit vulnerability attacks from spyware, malicious virusses and other “undesirable” uninvited software intrusions next to staying up-to-date on your anti-virus software.

Both agencies claim that currently 80-85% of all malicious computer attacks are attributed to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser vulnerabilities which  Microsoft in a press release tried to blame 3rd party add-ons as the culprit and advised as remedies to disable all add-ons.

According to Le Certa the warning extends beyond the Internet Explorer browser and also warns that within Microsoft Office 2007 versions, ActiveX and XML should be completely disabled due to equal high risk of importation of malicious spyware, even via MS-Word, Excel or Powerpoint document attachments. It further states that Word, Excel and Powerpoint including all saved formats are affected.

More on a local level, We received today a e-mail “Virus alert” from the “Computer Guys” on Amelia Island with the following message:

We have recently experienced an increase in the number of PCs arriving at our shop infected with viruses and spyware.  We have also noticed a common link in many of them; AT&T/Yahoo webmail.

Our guess is that they have not dug diligently enough since the violations are not Yahoo webmail nor ATT webmail related but the Internet Explorer browsers and/or the Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 attachments related. The well meant warning and described remedy in their e-mail is unfortunately not enough.

Microsoft in the meantime has promised a “Fix” since the pressure is spreading like a wildfire with threats now from the complete European Union, several Asian and Latin American Countries.

How do you secure your computer (If you have an Apple Mac you don’t have to worry):

  1. Install Mozilla FireFox 3.6 and/or Install Safari 4
  2. Disable XML and ActiveX in Microsoft Office 2003 and/or 2007 as well as in MS-Word, Excel and Powerpoint (all versions)
  3. Update your Anti-virus software and install an anti-Spy and malware.

Or more drastically but for once and for all eliminating all your Computer downtime: Get an Apple Mac or get a Linux Operating system for your current PC.

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Finding Wait Times for Rides at Disney World

wait-times-at-disney-worldIt is amazing what can be solved with the phrase, “There’s an App. For that.” Laid off from an advertising agency after 11 years of employment, Brent Pope, became tired of the long lines encountered at the Magic Kingdom, so he created an iPhone application that will tell people the length of the wait for the most popular rides.

As a parent with four kids, and still looking for work, he busied himself developing “Wait Times.” Since this relies on users to enter wait times, Pope made a commitment to visit the park everyday this summer and enter the information himself. Not a bad job whose kids are aged between 2 and 13.

The application has a single use, and for only 99 cents, if you have ever been to Disney World, this is a small price to pay to know the wait time for your favorite ride.

He is already growing his new business with “Wait Times” apps being developed for other Orlando and California theme parks. Check out more about this new tool at Theme Park Wait Times.

Save Money or the Environment?

By: Judie Mackie

Since society is telling me it is not enough to turn off my lights when I leave the room, but now I also have to replace them with those spiral shaped bulbs whenever one burns out, I’ll play along. It seems all of the water cooler talk is about tightening our belts and trying to go green at the same time. How did saving money get attached to a feeling of guilt?

Well, I just stocked up on frozen vegetables and meats that were on sale at the grocery store, but now I am supposed to unplug the extra freezer in the garage. I suppose my next trip to the grocery store will be limited to mass quantities of canned vegetables, dry pastas, SPAM, tuna and Vienna sausages. Our extra refrigerator will likely never be unplugged as it holds all of the cold beverages (beer) we could ever need. But, really, how long will that sparkling cider from last Christmas last anyway?

My husband read about how to make his own environmentally friendly spray bottle of a product that safely cleans every surface in our home. Why they suggested he add a few drops of food coloring is beyond me, because food coloring stains. I wasted more than our share of water and phosphorus loaded soaps just to get the blue stains off of my white counter tops.

We have always grown a small garden of vegetables to share with our neighbors during the summer months, so we are one step ahead of the game there, as soon as I learn to compost my own fertilizer instead of adding more to our water runoff. Oh, and while I am confessing my environmentally friendly sins, will I really go to Hell because I forgot to turn off the sprinkler to the garden and let it run all night long?

Our charity has expanded beyond normal tithing this week as we just learned to save money and energy by making several meals at a time. Now, we have to give it all away to our family, friends, and neighbors because we no longer have the extra freezer to store them in.

So, is it wiser to save money or save the environment? I suppose I should be permitted a rather generous learning curve as I learn to perfect them both.

Home Safety Devises That Can Save Your Life

Home Safety Devises That Can Save Your Life
By: Jamie D.

To most of us our home is our castle. A place we raise our families, eat our meals and spend the holidays. What would you do if you knew there were bad things that could be lurking in your home that could cause your family great danger or even death?  Would you take what ever actions necessary to get this danger out of your home?

I’ll bet the answer is YES. The dangers I am speaking of is in the form of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that collects to some extent in every home all over the world. This gas is highly toxic and can kill a person in a matter of minutes. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is generated mostly by fuel burning appliances located within your home including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and so on and are especially so on the older models that do not vent their fumes to the outside.

Appliances are not the only culprits; a car sitting in a closed garage can send lethal doses of this gas directly to your family killing them in less time than it takes to watch a week night television show. The signs and symptoms of this killer are severe headaches, dizzy, confused and being very lethargic. If you find yourself or a loved one with these symptoms remove them immediately from the home and get them to fresh air. Detection devises for carbon monoxide have been around for many years and have been widely used in the boat and RV world with great success. In the past several years we have seen more CO monitoring devises placed in single family homes as an early warning monitoring system. This is a great idea but don’t rely on the alarms solely. There are still other measures you as a home owner should do and not do.

-Do have your fuel burning devises inspected by a licensed technician at the beginning of each season.
-Do choose the newest fuel burning appliances whenever possible and have them installed properly with the fumes vented to the outside of the home.
-Do install a CO detector in your home.
-Don’t idle your car in the garage even if the door is open as fumes can build up very quickly.
-Don’t use gas ovens or stoves to heat your home.

Most importantly, don’t ignore the symptoms, particularly if more than one person is experiencing them. If symptoms are present get out of the home and into fresh air quickly.

We still live in the most beautiful place on the planet here on Amelia Island, but even in paradise you still have to be aware of danger.

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