Sunday, March 18, 2007

Skype Developments

Skype seems to be adding features to its services after its being bought by e-Bay.

Skype Ltd. has released a new version of its Internet telephony and instant messaging software that adds a feature to let users create business reviews, and another one to sell expertise, as the eBay Inc. subsidiary promotes interaction among its users.

Skype 3.1, available for Windows, features SkypeFind, designed to let Skype users post and find reviews of business establishments. It also introduces a test version of Skype Prime, a marketplace where Skype users can market knowledge and advice to others.

The company unveiled SkypeFind last month in a beta version of Skype 3.1. Already, SkypeFind contains around 4,500 listings from 124 countries and Skype expects it to have over a million listings by year's end.

Meanwhile, Skype Prime made its debut last week in another prerelease version of Skype 3.1, as an expertise marketplace open to both individuals and businesses interested in selling their advice. Unlike SkypeFind and Skype 3.1, Skype Prime is still considered to be in a beta, or test, phase.

SkypePrime looks interesting. I wonder if the world would actually be interested in a scandium expert online?

Steve Ballmer on Google

It takes a certain sort of nerve to attack a company for only being good at one thing when you're worse at that one thing yourself. Also, in news for Steve Ballmer, Google is good at two things, search and advertising:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer yesterday bad-mouthed Google for being successful at only one business (even though it's a business Microsoft has been trying unsuccessfully to break into). But the target doesn't matter. It could have been Linux. Or Apple. I'm just worn out by the repetition. Ballmer's trash-talking is a tired routine. He needs to get a new act.

For a couple of years now Microsoft has been trying to figure out how Google does it -- how the world's premiere search company provides Web-based services and makes its money by selling advertising. Google has done extremely well at both, and its success has made it the darling of Wall Street.

By contrast, as hard as Microsoft has tried with MSN and its confusing Live announcements, it hasn't done very well at either: Its search services are mediocre, and its Live OneCare antivirus software has famously failed a couple of tests recently.

As far as I can see, Microsoft will never have any success in Web-based, advertising-supported services for two reasons. First, it doesn't trust the model -- Microsoft is unwilling to give away for free any service that might be really useful. And second, it doesn't trust its customers.

It's also true that Microsoft is only good at one thing: controlling the OS market.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I didn't actually know that such a thing as a keylogger existed until just recently and I've been wondering what they could actually be used for. Sure, I know what spyware would do with it, but what would be a legitimate use for a legitimate keylogger?

It took me a bit of time because I'm not all that au fait with the ins and outs of technology but there seem to be at least three very good uses.

1) This one would be useful for me. Recording the various passwords and log ins to everything. Yes, I know you can use windows and or your browser to do most of these but do you really want to trust your security to such?

2) There's a corporate use as well. Not just the above log ins thogh, it'll help managers keep an eye on what users are actually doing on their computers. For example, managment can be held responsible if someone starts sending around dirty pictures and the like and very expensive that can be too. So if they're able to check on who is purveying such images then they can nip it in the bud.

3) A similar use could apply to a child's computer at home. Making sure that they're not straying off the straight and narrow into unapproved pastures.

OK, I think I can see what a keylogger could be used for now. I'm off to investigate the one they've got at now.

Disclosure Policy.

Just Say Hi!

One of the great joys about the web (indeed, about the internet itself) is that it offers us huge new opportunities to try out new ways of doing business. You might think that all possible ideas have already been tried but that would simply not be true. Think of Just Say Hi! for example.

Ás the late great Julian Simon pointed out, the only scarce resource we have is human ingenuity and it's that which throws up this cornucopia of new ideas for us. You might think that a market niche like online dating was already crowded, full in fact. There are the large companies like Yahoo, then those who chase various niches, like Jewish Singles, Christian Singles and so on. There's even one for single parents. Just Say Hi is doing it differently.

Instead of charging people to connect via their site, like Plentyoffish does, why not make the site free? There's enough advertising revenue to be had from people like Google's Adsense to make this a viable strategy.

So why not? A free site is going to get a lot more people joining than a paid one (unless we think that dating is a Giffen Good, which we have evidence that in fact it is not) and as it's the network effects that make them such desirable destinations, it should work very well indeed.

OK, that's the end of the economics. If you're looking for a date why not check out Just Say Hi!...?