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Beyond the Web

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Mark Suster on Fox News: How to Present Your Business to a Crowd

My favorite quote: One of the worst things with Powerpoint is the bulletpoint…

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Now We Know Why The City Never Sleeps

citilog

Now we know why The Citi Never Sleeps: they are busy censoring their customers. If you are a Citibank customer and they dislike your blog, you may just get in trouble.  (Disclosure: I do have a Citi account… so am taking a risk by writing this post.)

That’s just what happened to fabulis, a social network for gay men. Someone at Citi read their blog, decided that “content was not in compliance with Citibank’s standard policies” and froze their business account without advance warning.   Fabulis Founder Jason Goldberg says:

for the life of us we can’t find anything “objectionable” on our blog besides some good humor, some business insights, and some touching coming out stories from some great and fabulis gay people.

fabulis-underwear Some speculate it’s images like that of this underwear with fabulis printed on it.  If you ask me, these are not the most fabulis [sic] briefs, but who cares?

In fact it really doesn’t matter whether the fabulis blog has any “objectionable” material or not.  Since when is it the business of a bank to read and censor their Client’s writing?

I’m pinching myself, thinking it’s a bad dream.  But it’s not.  This happened in the United Sates in 2010.

Something tells me within hours as management wakes up, Citi will be bending over backwards to dig themselves out of this huge PR nighmare – the damage is done, repairs will be costly.

In the meantime, enjoy Fabulis (almost) by Amanda Lear.

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Bring On The Inquisition! Judge Should Not Let Google Evil-doers Get Away!

<rant>

inquisition Italian Judge Oscar Magi (photo @ TechCrunch , but I am not showing it for fear he might slap me with a privacy-invasion charge) has no idea what he’s dealing with.  He’s just allowed evil witches get away with only 6 months suspended jail sentence. (C’mon, why would their employer insist on covering up with the “do no evil” slogan?).

Not enough. Time to start a full-scale witch-hunt, bring in the Spanish Inquisition (OK, you’re Italian, but let’s face it the Spanish were the masters of this art), shut down Google, then the Internet, close libraries, burn all books and rid us of all evil!

</rant>

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Social Media Gurus, Beware

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SaaS Accounting Gains: Now What Say You, McKinsey?

According to Goldman Sachs Accounting is now at the #3 spot in SaaS implementations, reports Dennis Howlett.

Not a real surprise, certainly not to Dennis’s readers, or those who follow Ben’s Accounting 2.0 series over @ CloudAve.

Still, seeing the numbers makes me feel good, given that I debated a short-sighted report by McKinsey a few years ago, when they predicted that Financial Applications would be amongst the last to move to the Cloud.

Eat crow, McKinsey :-)

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Slacktivism – and that's Before Buzz :-)

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ScanCafe: Great Service, Lousy Spam

That’s yours truly on the left in full glory, albeit a bit scared at a photographer’s studio.

Why black-and-white, you may ask?  Well, there was no color photography back in 19xx (date censured).

This formerly black-and-white photo has turned sepia, but that may just be acceptable over 4 decades (oops, I let it slip out), but I was shocked to see some of my student-back-packer-trip color prints turn in the same shade, even though they were some 20 years younger. (I must have picked a cheap lab back then…)

I’ve long been thinking of digitizing them, but every time I got the urge I quickly realized that scanning in thousands of photos – prints, negatives and slides – would take me forever, and even then the result would be of questionable quality.  So I was really happy to read raving reviews of ScanCafe, a service, that takes care of it all at reasonable prices.

Anyone can buy a bunch of scanners and start a digitizing business, but ScanCafe brought a twist to the process: they perform all processing in India, (their own employees and facility, not outsourced), which allows them to be the price-leader, yet add a level of human post-processing that ensures the best quality.

You initiate the ordering process online, where you get abundant information on the process, packaging requirements..etc, then, after paying half the estimated price you print a UPS label.

Your package first goes to ScanCafe HQ in California, where it’s examined, re-packaged and shipped off to India. You can track progress every step of the way.  A few weeks later you can review the low-res scans online.  Here comes the good part: you can discard up to 50% of what they already scanned in. This is a life – OK, just budget – saver, when you consider how difficult it is to pick good pictures especially from negatives. Chances are you – like me- didn’t bother, just threw the whole bundle in an envelope, and would waste a lot of money paying for all of them, without the “select the best 50%” option.

Next you wait a few weeks, until you receive a package with your hi-res pix on DVD and all your originals back.  You’ll be amazed at just how good image quality is – and now your photos are preserved in digital safety.  Well, relative safety, at least – I suggest you read my older post on decaying digital media.

If it’s such a good service, is there anything not to like about ScanCafe?  Yes, indeed.  Although more annoyance than real pain (thanks to junk filters), ScanCafe turns out to be a major spammer.  I’ve been receiving their email offers just about every second / third day ever since the first order.  They are persistent – but I’m not sure persistence in this case is a positive virtue.  If this was a proper marketing campaign, shouldn’t they have noticed that I am not responding ever?  But it’s just brute force email spam.

In fact the story gets worse…  Is it even possible that they are not aware of their own business model?  Let’s see.

  • How many photos did you shoot this holiday season?
  • Did you drop the films off to be developed?
  • Has the lab lost any rolls?
  • Are you happy with the prints?
  • Have you kept the negatives?

Yeah, I thought so. And now, I’m not crazy, I know those questions belong to the 90’s.   Which is exactly my point: film photography is almost dead. History.  Which means most of us won’t become repeat customers for ScanCafe, not because we’re unhappy with it, but because they are in the one-time (or a few times)  conversion business. Eventually there will be nothing left to digitize, since we’re not producing printed photos anymore.

That’s not to say ScanCafe is a doomed business.  There’s still enough to digitize to keep them running for years, but unlike say ShoeBox, which does the same for your paper receipts, there’s no endless re-supply of analog photos, so eventually ScanCafe will need a new business model.  And in the meantime they might as well stop spamming their (former) customers.

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Laser Friday

News on lasers of all sizes hitting targets of all sizes…  let’s start small – hey, small is beautiful, after all.  Besides, this is one laser you could own at a reasonable size one day.

Small Gun, Lots of Small Targets

Former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold currently runs aptly named Intellectual Ventures.  At TED (not to be confused with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) he presented a laser system that can shoot down mosquitoes at a rate of 50-100 mosquitoes per second (!).  Here’s a demo video – obviously in slow motion:

The best part: he assembled this system from commercially available parts, in fact some components were acquired on eBay.  The guiding software is said to be refined enough to not only find the target, but determine their size, speed, sound characteristics, in fact separating females (the gender that bytes humans) from males, and only hit the real enemies.  So your birds, pets and neighbors are safe. That is, until a hacker decides to experiment :-)

If this sounds like mini Star Wars, here’s the real thing:

The Big Bang.  Big Gun, Big Target

The US Airforce’s he Airborne Laser Testbed system had a successful test off the California coast this week, when an airborne laser successfully  destroyed a missile minutes after it’s launch, while it was still in boost phase:

Not sure if the youtube version of the video will be allowed to stay on, but here’s a link to another version. While the experiment was technically successful, the future of the program is in doubt: there is only one system on one single airplane.

Well, let’s see, I promised all sizes: we’ve had the Big One, and a small laser against lots of tiny targets.  Let’s see what happens when lots of small lasers target on tiny target.

192 Lasers Hitting One Little Target

A research team at Livermore National Laboratory successfully fired a focuses array of 192 laser beams at a helium-filled target no larger than a BB shot and instantly heated it to 6 million degrees Fahrenheit. The gas vanished in a tiny explosion.   Wow… I wonder how they measured 6 million degrees?  But it’s nothing, the objective is to reach 200 million degrees.

Heartwarming news… especially that I live a mere 10 miles from that Lab.  But not all is lost, I got some assurances from Charlie :-)

@ZoliErdos we’ll try to remember you after the The Ignition

Thanks.  Forever :-)

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Splitting Up the US – How About the Rest of the World?

us regions

That’s the map of the US based on Pete Warden’s analysis of Facebook profiles.    So I live in Socialistan – oh well, I grew up in a Communist country, if this is Socialism, I can handle it :-)

But what about the Rest of the World?   I thought it was a good time to dust off the good old World Map – admittedly not based on scientcific research :-)

P.S.  to potential flame-throwers: pls. look up the meaning of irony.  Or sarcasm:-)