December 2009

Free Product Giveaway: Flash Media Interactive Server ($4,500 retail)

Fms2 The drawing is now closed. Thanks to Adobe, I have one copy of Flash Media Interactive Server 3.5 to give away to one lucky reader of my blog. This is an incredible giveaway as the software retails for $4,500 from Adobe's website. Winner: Sean D. from New York, NY.

Because I don't want someone winning this and simply re-selling it on eBay, this drawing is only open to companies. To enter the drawing, you must leave one comment on this post with your real first and last name, a valid email address AND the URL of your company. I'll pick a winner at random at the end of the month and mail it out to the user at no charge. Keep an eye on the blog as later in the month, I'll have another Adobe Flash product to giveaway.

A HUGE thanks to Adobe for allowing me to give this away on my blog.

Comcast’s TV Everywhere Service Goes Live, Poor Video Quality, Lots Of Buffering

Fancast Today, Comcast officially launched their much-hyped TV Everywhere service to customers who subscribe to the company’s broadband Internet service and digital cable TV offering, which appears to be around 10-12M consumers. Comcast is doing a press announcement on the news now so hopefully there will be some more details to come and some more specifics on the numbers.

Users who want to access the content will have to download the Move Networks plugin and the Adobe AIR app. For me, the user experience is not a lot better than what I saw back in October when I got to get hands-on with it when it was still in the trial. While Comcast is rolling out the service nation wide, it’s still being called a “beta” offering and it shows.

The quality of the videos I checked out today took up to ten seconds to buffer, with lots of pixelation and really poor frame rates. I’ll keep checking out the service today but frankly, Comcast is going to have to do a lot better than this quality wise of they want anyone to take it seriously.

How To Calculate Your Cloud Computing Costs

When it comes to calculating your content delivery or cloud computing costs, there are a bunch of calculators in the market that let you do this. But very few of these calculators produced by vendors are easy to find online and most are very basic and don't allow much customization.

Last week, Amazon launched an Excel spreadsheet that so far, is the best I have seen in the industry for calculation costs associated with cloud computing. You can read more about it at Amazon's Economics Center website and you can download the Excel file here.

The Business Of Blogging Is Ruining The Medium

I know some bloggers are going to take offense to this post, but over the past few years, it’s my opinion that the business of blogging has really ruined the medium. It used to be that many bloggers were writing every day because they wanted to tell a story and had passion for what they were covering. But these days, fewer bloggers are telling stories and are simply re-hashing news from a press release. While I am a blogger, I’m also a reader, and just like everyone else I like reading in-depth analysis about many subjects. It use to be that bloggers were interested in really offering insight into news, trends and technology and took a great deal of time to research a subject and really convey a story to the reader. Many posts use to tell the entire story from both sides and would go into details on what the potential impact could be on the market.

But today, most blog posts don’t tell stories, don’t give the full picture and too many bloggers write for headlines. The trend I keep seeing in the RSS feeds I follow is that the vast majority of bloggers are more concerned with getting their post up first, as opposed to getting it right, or providing any real analysis into the subject. Too many bloggers write for headlines, keep their posts under 800 words and many times, only care about page counts.

I understand that’s how the blogging business works, but that’s not a model that can sustain itself in the long run. Bloggers want to fight with other bloggers over who broke the news first, how good their sources are or who got an “exclusive”. I think using the term “exclusive” to define any blog post is just silly. While someone might be the first one to write about the news, it does not mean they are the only one to know about it. While there are many news stories that are big that every blogger always wants to follow, many times I think they write something up just because they feel pressure that if they don’t, they will be seen as not being up on the news. I don’t agree with that pressure. This is why if you are like me, and monitor 100+ RSS feeds, you’ll literally see two dozen posts all on the same news item, each day. The problem with that is 95% of them don’t tell you anything different than what the others said. Most of them don’t take the time to do anything more than report on the news, but provide no real analysis.

I know some bloggers feel that as long as they talk to someone at the company who put the news out and get a quote from them that they did their job. But if you look at the quote, many times it’s the same quote you see in posts by other bloggers as well. It’s simply a canned quote. You’ll also notice that when it comes to new product announcements, many bloggers all use the same images, provided to them by the vendor releasing the product. This tells me that most bloggers never got hands-on with the product, never took their own screen shots, didn’t take the time to use it and really have no insight into how the product works. Of course this is not the case when it comes to gadgets, but look at just how few reviews are out there of non-hardware items. I suspect some bloggers might respond to this post by saying that’s the nature of the blogging business. They have to get a lot of content online each day and don’t have time to write long pieces or really tell a story. They are going to say that it is a volume based business and that’s just the reality of the market. While I understand that’s how the blogging market has evolved, the real question to ask is if that’s good for business? To me, that kind of writing is not how you capture and maintain loyal readers.

Blogging is suppose to be about the community and getting feedback from readers. But how many of the blogs you read even allow you to comment on a post without having to register with the website or create an account? That defeats the whole purpose of having blog to begin with and is one of the reasons I see no comments on many of the blogs I read. These blog sites need to make it easy to comment, not harder. I’m a reader of blogs more than a blogger myself, since blogging is not my full-time job. I blog because I enjoy it, I love the online video industry and more importantly, I enjoy trying to tell stories and getting feedback from readers. Sure, I could be better, my grammar needs work and I have no editor for my blog. But as a reader, I wish there were more in-depth stories on the online video space, the vendors in the industry and the impact that business, technology and content will have on the market. I’m interested to hear what others think on the subject.

Google’s New DNS Service Has One Major Flaw, Poor Performance

Google-logo Last week, when Google announced on their blog that they were getting into the DNS business, many people on the web wanted to debate whether or not it would give Google too much control over the Internet, by questioning how Google would use the data that's collected. While I don't disagree that it is a valid concern, since no one is being forced to use Google's DNS offering, to me, that's not the real story.

What we should be discussing as an industry is the performance of Google's Public DNS service, something I haven't seen much written about. I've been using Google's DNS over the past week and at least for me, the performance has been worse than Level 3's DNS or my local ISP, Verizon. While Google is not going into details on where their DNS servers are located, other networking companies in the industry gave me a list of their locations which are; Atlanta, Reston, Seattle, California, Brazil, Taiwan, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland and London.

With that much coverage, you'd think their service would be at least up to par with the others, but in most cases, I'm getting results where Google is 30% slower than competitors. On the Google blog, they say the reason the industry needs their Google Public DNS service is, "to make users' web-surfing experiences faster, safer and more reliable." While that sounds nice, frankly no one is buying it and so far, the results I am seeing don't back it up. Clearly Google is looking at DNS services from the business side and knows that many companies already gladly pay for these services on the open market.

But the real question is, just what does Google think they can accelerate about this, anyway? Google's claimed interest in this is to "speed up the web", but are ISP DNS proxies really the weak link in the whole process? I don't see how they can remove that much latency from the process for a large ISP, like Comcast or Verizon, who not only more than likely has a sophisticated DNS proxy infrastructure of their own, but who also has a large user population. This means that the vast majority of DNS queries they get from users are handled via cached results from a previous user query, so no benefit would be achieved by "pre-caching" DNS responses in the vast majority of cases.

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