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Evernote Celebrates Birthday by Joining the Billion Dollar Club (Really?)

Evernote has recently celebrated their third birthday. I also recently had my 21st birthday – it feels good to be able to legally grab a drink finallySmile.  (Hey, if Evernote can lie about their age, so can I…).   Joke apart, I have no idea why a company would pretend to be half as young as they really are – there are quite a few users, yours truly included who remember the early product, back from 2005-2006.

evernote scrollOK, so back then Evernote was really nothing more than a scrawny little note-taker, with a weird scrolling tape metaphor that was hard to get used to, but it already showed unusual flexibility of mixing typed and handwritten text with imaging. Still, the key benefit was price, compared to Microsoft Onenote.  It’s hard to compete with free.

I was truly surprised by the news of their first funding round. Here’s my offending post from 2006 (hm, before they even existed, if you believe the birthday news…):

EverNote – Love You and Hate You

EverNote is the last company I expected to raise venture funding: has a mature product, a mix of freeware and a $35 version, and I pretty much considered them a good candidate for safe, organic growth. GigaOM just reported it EverNote’s funding to the tune of $6M. Wow…

My Love & Hate relationship? The love part is easy to understand; it’s a handy, easy-to-use notetaker, which I prefer to the comparable Microsoft OneNote, and the $0 price is quite unbeatable. The hate part: it really does not fit into strategy of moving off the desktop into the Cloud.

In fact it’s the only application that breaks my sync efforts between two laptops using FolderShare:

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The Tethering / Hotspot Debate: No, You’re Not a Thief. But Somebody Else is a Highway Robber.

 

Interesting debate at ZDNet over wireless data plans:  James Kendrick claims that unpaid tethering makes you a thief.   Thankfully his fellow ZDNet-er Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has the common sense to dispute  this tethering thief nonsense.

Yes, technically if your wireless contract includes an anti-hotspot clause and you turn this feature on, you are in violation. Of the contract, that is.  Your provider has the right to levy additional charges, or terminate your contract. But does that make you a thief?  I’d much rather conclude your provider commits highway robbery.

Remember this device?

Yes, phones used to look like that.  And there was a time when phone companies (actually, “the” phone company, Ma Bell) charged extra when you had more then one outlet in your home….

Remember the early days of cable TV?   You had to ( well, were supposed to) pay extra for each additional cable outlet.

How about the early days of the Internet, before wireless became pervasive?  Yes, ISPs expected you to pay extra for each outlet…

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Motorola Takes Us a Step Closer to Personal Computing Nirvana–and it’s Not Even a Computer

Motorola Atrix 4GIt took five years, but the personal computing nirvana vision I first heard from Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu is becoming reality. The concept that I discussed in The Cell-Phone Aware PC May Be a PC-less PC, and other posts is simple.  Instead of a plethora of situational devices with redundant computing capacity, carry around just one powerful mobile device, which:

  • brings connectivity, the browser and personalization, with
  • data and apps in the cloud, while
  • the actual devices we interact with are inexpensive displays and keyboards (and other peripherals) that come in various shapes and sizes, truly focusing on usability, ergonomics and convenience.

The first product that gets quite close to the vision is the Motorola Atrix 4G

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No More Stinking Data Plans

samsung-galaxy-nomoredataplans-460

Image credit: ZDNet

Ok, I’ve stolen that title from Jason Perlow on ZDNet.  And I’ll steal from myself quite liberally, in just a moment.  That’s because I fully agree with Jason, who makes the point that Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab is an attractive device, but he really wants to just outright buy it, without yet another data plan contract. His logic is simple: the Samsung Tab is a supplementary device, it will not cause extra data usage.  How many times should we pay for the same thing?   And this is where I “steal” from myself:

rotaryphoneRemember this?

Yes, phones looked like that.  And there was a time when phone companies (Ma Bell) charged extra when you had more then one outlet in your home….

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Your Own (Almost) Ad-Hoc HotSpot

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’re likely better off buying a MiFi or using your late-model cell-phone’s HotSpot capability than paying those outrageous hotel surcharges.  If you’re a frequent conference-goer, you’ve already learned they all fail to provide reliable connection(Web 2.0, LeWeb, Gnomedex, Microsoft PDC, Google I/O, just to name a few recent examples), so the only solution is BYOW – Bring Your Own WiFi (and the chaos it creates.)

But what if you rarely venture to un-connected areas, say a few times a year?  Paying $30-$60 a month does not look like a great value..  Now you can (almost) have your own ad-hoc service, without the monthly subscription plan – after you plunk down $149 for Virgin Mobile’s new MiFi device.  You can pay anywhere between $10 for 100MB to $60 for 5G of usage.

There’s only one problem with the plan – spot it yourself:

virgin plans

Yes, all these plans expire in an unreasonably short time.  Given the these limitations, if I were an infrequent user (less then once a month), I would probably buy the $10 plan just a few days in preparation for specific events. But let’s be real, this s*cks.  The proper solution for the ad-hoc user would be consumption-based plans with no expiry, with fill-up option.

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Samsung Galaxy S vs. Samsung Galaxy S

The title is not a typo, I’m really comparing the Galaxy S to the Galaxy S.  Join me.  Here’s the version many of us have seen, and I held in my hands (salivating with desire, I might add) at the Google I/O Conference:

Samsung-Galaxy-S front

And here’s the Samsung Captivate, announced by At&T today, and heralded as AT&T’s brand for the Samsung Galaxy S.

Something does not compute ( and I don’t mean the phones, these babies are blazing fast).  But either they are not both the Samsung Galaxy S, or this name refers to an entire family of devices, not just one specific model.  The latter does not make too much sense to me: Samsung Galaxy can be a family name, without the “S”.  Case in point: Samsung Galaxy Tab .

What gives?  Does anyone have an explanation?  Samsung, feel free to chime in.   Oh, and please release this baby while I am still within the 30-day period of my HTC EVO :-)

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Ungrateful iBozos, Stop the Whining. Get a (i)Life.

<sarcasm>

iPhone-4-steve-jobs I’m sick of all this whining within the iFamily.  These iBozos just don’t appreciate all the goodness they have.

iPhone preorder systems failed.  So what?  You’ve just saved a boatload of money, be happy, get a life!

Yet another At&T security breach. What’s the big deal?  All your data is public anyway, has been for a while, will always be so, so STFU.

Orders Charged and Sent to the Wrong People – and Gizmodo has the balls to call it a disaster.  They don’t understand the Grand Scheme. Have you ever been to a potluck party?  You bring some, get some (or not).  Random credit cards get charged and iPhones get delivered to random people – so what?  On the average it all works out, everyone receives an iPhone (or not).  We’re all part of iFamily.

MG Siegler Wants a Micro-Cell Rip-Off Box – WTF?  To actually waste time making calls?  Voice calls are so 90’s anyway. He should pay extra to AT&T for providing such a valuable time-saver plan.

I’m fed up with these unfaithful, ungrateful iWhiners.  They should be happy to be admitted to the iChurch and shut up. At least while on AT&T

</sarcasm>

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The Chaos of BYOW (Bring Your Own Wi-Fi)

It all started as an innocent joke:

scoble zoli wifi

Robert Scoble was sitting in the front row @ Apple’s WWDC conference while I was following the tweetstream from home.  Little did we know out joke would soon turn serious, as Steve Job’s keynote demo crashed when his shiny new iPhone 4 could not get a network connection.  Ars Technica offers detailed technical analysis of what may have happened, citing wi-fi experts who think the iPhone 4 may have a software glitch – but beyond that, they go deeply into analyzing the roots of network congestion at major gatherings.

It’s a great read, I have nothing to add on the technical side, just a little speculation on what brought this potential chaos about, and how to avoid it.

In short, we’re in a vicious circle.   The best “should-know-better” conferences have famously failed to provide sufficient wifi, including  Web 2.0, LeWeb, Gnomedex, Microsoft PDC, Google I/O… you name it.   We’re not talking about Birdwatchers’ Annual Convention or Road Builders Conferences – no, these are hi-tech events heavily attended by geeks, analysts, media, bloggers – the wifi_proliferationalways on, ever connected types, who will not tolerate being offline and will come up with their solution, as soon as the technology exist.

Thus, Bring Your Own Wifi was born – first the dedicated USB sticks with their $60 a month fees, then Mi-Fi, and now a flood of smartphones all providing their own hotspots.  Now all these BYOW devices wreak havoc and cause congestion.

Now, there are some cosmetic improvements we could all do, for example stop broadcasting our hotspot’s SSID. Not that it would reduce the behind-the-scenes congestion, but at least it would not clog the list of Wi-Fi for anyone else.  (Even this is easier said than done: some hotspots do not offer the option to shut broadcasting off, and even more sadly several devices refuse to connect to a Wi-Fi unless the SSID is listed).

We’re heading into a period of wireless chaos – it probably won’t be so bad on the road, in remote places, not even while using public transportation – but it will definitely get worse at places of expected high Mi-Fi / hotspot concentration.

We’ve come full circle. It all started by the lack of “centralized” connectivity, we all came up with our own ad-hoc solution and now we’re spoiling the game for each other.  I know I’d stop fiddling with my  EVO (or the gadget of the day) if there was rock-solid wi-fi at all conferences.  It’s time conference organizers step up to the plate.  If they don’t know how, I suggest they talk to Eric.

P.S. On a ligther note, some people already discovered the option of using the SSID for messaging. Is this the next marketing opportunity?

rwang wifi ads

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Facebook Big Mac Attack – Not For Me, Thanks. Top 10 Reasons to …

Burger Fat Kid Oh, just what the Doctor has ordered: more junk food coming your way, left and right, from the social network that’s taking over the Internet: Facebook.  McDonald’s will be the first advertiser taking advantage of Facebook’s soon-t0-be-releasing location feature.

The first reaction from most is this will kill leading location-based services: Hey Foursquare, Time To Close That Round Of Funding Before Facebook Chops Off Your Head.  Yes, probably true, but now I am more worried about Facebook users – all of us – then businesses, and not just as a defender of healthier diets.  Greasy or not, it’s not the ads that worry my, it’s yet another level of thoughtless surrender we’ll soon be committing: broadcasting our location every step of the way.

Yes, I realize there may be social benefits from bumping into friends via Foursquare Facebook, but have you really considered the danger of letting the world know where you are every step of the way?   While you think about it, also consider just whose hands you leave all that data in: not exactly the champions of privacy.

The Relationship Between Facebook and Privacy: It’s Really Complicated says Mathew Ingram @ GigaOM this morning, and I strongly disagree.  There is nothing complicated about it.  Facebook does not give a *** about privacy: it’s a concept CEO Mark Zuckerberg finds obsolete, simply does not believe in at all. Now, in reality, even Facebook caves in  to demands of privacy, but they are either careless or incompetent, or both, plugging one security hole after another.

Three strikes and you’re out – I guess Facebook is exempt from that law, now that they are becoming the New Internet.

But people are actually worried about privacy implications to consider quitting Facebook entirely: 10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account.  It’s a post worth reading in full, here are just the headings:

10. Facebook’s Terms Of Service are completely one-sided

9. Facebook’s CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior

8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy.

7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch

6. Facebook is a bully

5. Even your private data is shared with applications (you are no longer trusting Facebook, but the Facebook ecosystem).

4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted.

3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account.

2. Facebook doesn’t (really) support the Open Web.

1. The Facebook application itself sucks.

facebook internet 2040I must admit for all my grumpiness I have not deleted my account, and I likely will not (not that it would be easy ).  I resisted joining Facebook in the first place, was probably a year or so late, and even when I joined, I created a separate email account just for FB, and disallowed saving any Facebook cookies (remember Beacon? ). But resistance became just too inconvenient… so now I am in. That said I am not particularly active on Facebook, hardly maintain my profile and generally my presence there is a mess (this is where my marketing friends can jump in chastizing me for the lost opportunity).  I’m only sticking around because Facebook has proven to be too pervasive, it is everywhere and (almost) everyone is on it.  So yes, it is great to find long-lost friends and even discover some new ones.  But that’s all for me, and I seriously suggest you all reconsider the level of your presence.

And even if you are very disciplined in your Facebook usage (are you?) read #5 above again.  Just yesterday I was setting up my shiny new Android phone: I decided to enable location information, for the benefit of Google Maps and other really useful services.  But… but..but … I am also tweeting and communicating in a zillion other ways from that same device, and although I will try to be careful about reviewing the permissions of every single app, it’s likely I will slip sooner or later.

So think about this: in this API-driven intertwined ecosystem of mobile and web services, just how certain can you be that Facebook (and others) won’t get information you never intend to give them in the first place, no matter how careful (you think) you are?

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iPhone? Android? It’s All Irrelevant when you Can’t Get a Signal

Will iPhone users move to Verizon? – goes the speculation, based on a study published @ Fortune showing AT&T drop calls 3 times as frequently as Verizon.

From my vantage point even dropped calls would be a luxury – meaning you can get a strong enough signal to place calls in the first place.  Apparently I live at the end of the World.  Sometimes I tell friends if Friedman is right and the World is really flat, this is where you fall off the edge. :-)

But it’s not really the “end of the world” – Pleasanton is (was) was hometown to software giants like  PeopleSoft, Commerce One,  Oracle, Workday, or to name a few more traditional businesses, grocery chain giant Safeway, or mega-HMO Kaiser Permanente.  Yet this is what AT&T’s coverage map looks like:

at&t coverage map

Ad no, we’re not even talking about 3G data, this is for voice calls.  Now, being in the “good” (on the boundary of moderate) zone may not look so bad, until we look at how At&T defines good voice coverage:

Should be sufficient for on-street or in-the-open coverage, most in-vehicle coverage and possibly some in-building coverage. This AT&T owned network provides GSM, GPRS, and EDGE service

Possibly some in-building coverage?  Calling that good?  How pathetic.  But let’s look at other carriers’ definition of “Good”.  T-Mobile:

You will likely be able to place calls outdoors, in a car, and occasionally indoors.

Occasionally?  What are they smoking calling this “good” coverage?  Hm, let’s check Sprint, home to the uber-super HTC EVO 4GS and the superfast Overdrive 4G hotspot:

You should generally receive a signal strength sufficient to make calls outdoors, in a car and in some buildings.

How Pathetic.  All these companies must speak a different version of English, where “good” means “no can do” in most buildings.  Insanity.

That only leaves Verizon, which has solid red (best coverage) in my entire area.  Which makes my choice easy: all those comparative reviews of the iPhone 3G and 4G, HTC Incredible, Nexus One, HTC EVO 4G are so irrelevant, if I can’t get a signal.  HTC Incredible (Android) and Verizon, here I come.  By default.