Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

Joost successfully runs on Apple TV

One of the glaring holes in Apple TV is internet content, so a Joost boost is just what the doctor ordered.

Don’t know how long until Apple updates the software to block any mods. I somehow doubt Apple will allow Joost to run officially on the device…

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Filed under: Apple Computer, Software

Twitter? Monetizing timewasting.

So, my techguru friend CK was on Twitter and there’s an aqualicious client for Mac OS X (Twitterfic 2.0 beta available here). Twitterfic 1.5 kept messing up my network connection- we’ll see how twitterific behaves.

Why does Twitter rock? This image (via Library House’s blog) pretty much sums it up:


All those posts at the bottom- if linked into your phone- generate major amounts of traffic.

Ringtones, games, video, etc are all about wasting time. Monetizing timewasting. I believe this is one of the great new business models… Blogger, Flicker, Youtube and now Twitter.

I won’t be a heavy user, just while on my Mac (self imposed twitter limits), but my profile is here.

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Filed under: Software

Open Source Artificial Intelligence

Numenta made their software available (for educational use) earlier this month. In case you haven’t heard of these guys, their platform for intelligent computing (NuPIC)

…implements a hierarchical temporal memory system (HTM) patterned
after the human neocortex. [They] expect NuPIC to be used on problems that,
generally speaking, involve identifying patterns in complex data. The
ultimate applications likely will include vision systems, robotics,
data mining and analysis, and failure analysis and prediction.

Numenta’s platform builds intelligence from scratch- in the same way a human baby does. What is immensely powerful is that machine-based intelligence is only a download away for other machines, no learning required. I can only imagine what happens when multiple applications built on the NuPIC platform are merged into an integrated system.

I’m looking forward to working with the HTM technology. One of the areas I’m interested in looking into is seeing if Numenta’s algorithm can help me discover the most relevant articles in my multitude of feeds based on my previous reading habits (a perennial favorite of mine).

Anyone else seen any interesting AI applications I should be looking at/testing?

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Filed under: Artificial Intelligence, Software

Slimming down iPhoto

Great piece of command-line kung foo here.

I shaved a gig of “original” photos. There are some apps out there that do the same thing, but without the command-line drama of “Will this actually erase my entire computer if I mistype something?”.

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Filed under: Apple Computer

The Shopping Experience- keeping customers happy

I’ve believed since my days at infonomia that Alfons Cornella was correct: in the future, everything would be bought via the net and that physical shopping would be an “experience” in the same way that fine dining is about more than just nourishing the body.

I have now decided that e-commerce can provide a vastly superior shopping experience.

I was reminded what an “experience” it is to shop today at my local Sainsbury’s Market- how time-consuming, frustrating and stressful a weekend outing to the supermarket can really be.

I’ve been using Able & Cole for a few months now and have continued to be impressed with their website, value for money, quality food and above all, customer service. It’s all about customer touch points: the “notes” they include with my weekly delivery, the quirky explanation about what “Apples in conversion” means, what farm they’ve come from, how far they travelled, what the carbon footprint is, etc.

The last time I saw our delivery guy, he said, “Mr Ball, it’s been a pleasure delivering your groceries, but I’ve been re-assigned to NW3. My colleague [Scott] will be taking care of you from now on…”. He was very sincere that someone else would be taking care of me and my family and seemed honestly disappointed to be reassigned to a different part of London.

I was thoroughly impressed. I’ve seen at least 20 different delivery guys from Tesco, and none of them have even bothered to say more than “Sign here”.

If you’re an e-tailer, I seriously recommend that you study Able & Cole forensically. They are doing an amazing job.

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Filed under: Other

Copilot- Remote Internet Assistance

If your parents (or other loved ones) are connected to the net, but can’t seem to keep their machine humming, instead of trying to troubleshoot over the phone, direct them to Copilot.

The Fog Creek Copilot service allows people to help their friends, relatives, and customers fix their computer problems by connecting to their computers via the Internet.

Unlike other remote assistance services, Fog Creek Copilot is secure, easy to use, works through virtually all home or office firewalls, and requires no installation or configuration.

It costs $5 for 24 hours. My parents and I are both running Mac OS X- which very few services support. I was able to fix our Skype video connection this afternoon in about 20 min.

I can’t recommend it enough. There’s also a free “demo” service available that lets you try the service for 5 min – just to see that it actually works. I know Apple will be offering something similar in the upcoming 10.5 release- but until then, Copilot is for me.

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Filed under: Software

Is there a growing Web 2.0 bubble?

This was one of the questions put to me at tonight’s London Business School entrepreneurship gala. My answer was “Did you see the $100 million valuation of the family tree site, Geni?”

I literally fell off my chair when I saw the announcement that Geni raised $10 million at a $100 million post only 7 weeks after raising their $1.5 million seed round. Supposedly they have 100,000 registered users with 2 million “nodes”.

Maybe being an only child limits my excitement about a family networking site…

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Filed under: Technology, Venture Capital

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