Our Latest Discovery

April 12, 2007  12:52 PM

Pandora: An online music discovery platform from the Music Genome Project

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Pandora is a music discovery service designed to help users find and enjoy music. It’s powered by the Music Genome Project, one of the most comprehensive analyses of music ever undertaken.

According to Tom Westergren, the founder of the project, the analytical engine that drives the service was created by “assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records – it’s about what each individual song sounds like.”

After you’ve clicked over to the Web site, all you have to do is enter a few of your favorite songs or artists and Pandora launches “a streaming station to explore that part of the music universe.” The more you listen, the more accurate Pandora becomes in predicting which other artists and tracks will be within your boundaries of taste, much as speech recognition software becomes more accurate with greater use.

April 12, 2007  12:22 PM

Bluespam: Spam sent to Bluetooth-enabled devices

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A TechDirt post from 2005 eerily predicted what’s actually happening in 2007: Bluespam has hit the bigtime. Well, Nascar and young people’s cellphones, anyway. Specifically, as Carlo posted on TechDirt yesterday, the Air Force is “aiming high” with Bluespamming.

Should our spam definition now be extended to unsolicited bulk electronic communication of any kind? Probably not — there’s an active market in creating new terms to describe this kind of solicitation in each medium. In fact, we recorded a podcast last year, “What are Spam, Spim, Sping, Splog and Spit?,” that addressed exactly this expansion.

If we start with WhatIs.com’s definition of spam, unsolicited bulk email (UBE) sent on the Internet, it’s easy to make the extension, though it’s necessary to make UBE more generel, extending it to unsolicited commercial electronic communication (UCEC). Spim is UCEC using instant messenging (IM) software.

SPIT, sometimes known as “vam” for voice spam, UCEC sent over IP telephony. SPIT may be broadcast over VoIP, which I suppose would be “SPoIP,” though we haven’t heard that much.

There’s good news for enterprise VoIP users, however, according to Zeus Kerravala: “Spam and eavesdropping, which is what a lot of them are worried about, is mostly based on consumer voice. That has nothing to do with what goes on behind the firewall, where the main concern is managing performance.” Kerravala is an analyst for the Yankee Group in Boston who wrote a guide to the realities of VoIP security for SearchVoIP.com, so we’re inclined to trust him on this count.

Back to Bluespamming. Using the same formulation from above, Bluspamming is defined as unsolicited commercial electronic solicitations sent over a Bluetooth connection. Is it really spam? TechDirt certainly thinks so:

While there are plenty of people who like to think that marketing is an evil profession, that’s not true at all. Real marketing has tremendous value in figuring out what people want and how to deliver it to them. It’s just that so many people do it so badly (and assume that marketing is more about telling people they want something they don’t) that it has a terrible reputation. That’s why you just have to cringe when some marketers do things so obviously bad that you just know it’s going to continue the downward spiral of the view of what marketing really is about. A few weeks ago, we wrote about a test of a system in the UK called “Bluecasting” which was more accurately described as “Bluespamming”, where terminals were set up to send commercial messages over Bluetooth to unsuspecting people passing by with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. The companies behind this plan insist it’s fine because rather than just sending you the commercial message, they first spam you to ask you if it’s okay if they send you a commercial message. For some reason, these folks then thought it was terrific that they only wasted the time of 85% of the people they spammed. Sure, compared to direct mail, that’s a high return, but it’s quite a different situation. Buzzing someone on their phone as they’re walking through a train station is likely to really interrupt them as they’re on their way somewhere. Yet, due to blind marketing-think, the folks behind it still are insisting it’s wonderful and are expanding the program to bug even more people — pretty much guaranteeing that most folks are going to start turning Bluetooth off on their phones. The people behind it are in denial about how annoying this really is. According to the manager of some airport lounges where this will be used: “I think it’s done very well because it enables the customers [to choose]. It doesn’t force it on them.” But, it does force it on users — by pinging them without permission to see if they want the ad. That’s the spam. Being interrupted as they’re trying to do something else. If it was really completely up to the user, they would just put up signs telling people they could request info or content on their phones using Bluetooth. But actively sending them messages via Bluetooth is intrusive and, to many, many people, clearly seen as spam.”

For more context, make sure to review our definitions for Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing and our glossary of ‘casts, which we’ve updated to include “Bluecasting”. For more information about Bluetooth, listen in to our podcast, “What is Bluetooth?,” over at Bitpipe.com (Free registration is required).

April 11, 2007  9:09 PM

Krugle: A source code, documentation and knowledge base search engine for developers

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Krugle is a search engine that allows developers to find and interactively browse source code files, code documentation, discussion forums, knowledge base information and relevant open source projects.

April 11, 2007  2:54 PM

StatCounter: Free blog traffic statistics in real time

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StatCounter offers webmasters and bloggers a free, highly configurable hit counter and detailed Web statistics accessible through an easy online interface. To get started, you just need to insert a simple piece of HTML code into your index page or blog template to get started with analyzing and monitoring all of the visitors to your Web site — in real time.

April 11, 2007  2:37 PM

Current.tv: The first 24-hour network based around viewer-created content.

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Like YouTube, Current.tv features videos created by users and uploaded to their distribution platform on the Web. They call them “viewer-created content” but that difference is only semantic, especially considering that of the short programs called “pods” that make up the bulk of programming, an estimated 30% are created by viewers and users.

Unlike YouTube, Current.tv organizes the content into a single channel, with short to medium-length programming includes spots from of Google. Current.tv isn’t just on the Web, either; the channel went live in 2005 on most major domestic U.S. cable networks, including Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, DirectTV and Dish Network.

The cable television network is run by Current TV, an independent media company led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt. A second network was launched in the spring of 2007 in the United Kingdom and Ireland for Sky and Virgin Media subscribers. There’s an official Current blog that about noteworthy content that’s worth a look as well.

April 11, 2007  2:15 PM

Riya.com: Visual search engine for the public domain

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Riya is a visual search engine that uses face and image similarity to search the Web. While it’s still technically in beta, you can already try it out to find pictures in the public domain.

April 11, 2007  10:54 AM

Craigslist.org: Online urban community networking

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Craigslist just keeps expanding, bringing its transformative mix of forums, apartment and job listings, want ads and personals to many more communities. Craigslist now offers listings for jobs, housing, goods, services, romance, local activities, advice and much more for 450 cities worldwide, all community moderated, and, astoundingly, largely free. Has your city — or country — been listed yet? If so, keep an eye on your local newspaper, as the free and fluid online marketplace for classifieds and apartment listings that Craigslist provides are a primary driver behind the financial woes of traditional newsprint journalism.

Craigslist was founded in early 1995, by Craig Newmark, in San Francisco, CA. According to Craigslist, the networks of sites receive over 5 billion page views a month, serving more than 15 million users during that span month. In fact, Craigslist users self-publish 14 million new classified ads each month, to go with more than 750,000 new job listings each month and more than 50 million user postings in 100 topical forums.

All of that is managed by 23 Craigslist employees working out of a Cictorian house in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. The site supports those modest operations by charging below-market fees for job ads in 7 cities and for broker apartment listings in NYC. By doing so, Craigslist may now be the leading classifieds service in any medium.

We’ve certainly found great deals on apartments, event tickets, used electronics and all manner of other good, along with thoroughly outrageous personal ads and even a new friend or two. In fact, this editor found a job, a large CRT TV on the cheap and a new place to live this year though “CL.”

April 11, 2007  10:35 AM

Channel 9: Connecting Microsoft developers and customers with Web 2.0

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Channel 9 is a discussion forum used to promote conversations among Microsoft’s customers, hosted by Microsoft, featuring video interviews with developers, podcasts, forums and a wiki. More than twenty different podcasts and IPTV shows are available for download and subscription as well.

According to the first video ever posted on the site, the name “Channel 9” was chosen after the on-board channel #9 on airplanes. When the flight crew turns on Channel 9, passengers can listen to cockpit conversations. The metaphor makes sense in describing a forum between developers and users — and both the site and the name stuck. Microsoft’s application development teams use Channel 9 as a platform for aggregating user feedback and responding to it, publishing production notes and occasionally posting quirky videos like a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Microsoft.” You can learn more about the story of Channel 9 by watching this video or reading the Channel 9 Doctrine.

April 11, 2007  9:50 AM

Sourceforge.Net: More open source software downloads than you shake a memory stick at

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Sourceforge may not be brand new (in fact, it’s been around since 2001) but with over 145,000 hosted open source projects, it’s always worth visiting again. In concert with its “Create, Participate, Evaluate” tagline, Sourceforge’s more than 1.5 million users are doing just that on all of those projects. I’ve downloaded many wonderful applications from Sourceforge, notably Audacity, the free audio recording and editing software we use and recommend for podcasting.

April 10, 2007  4:36 PM

TechCrunch: Chronicling Web 2.0

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TechCrunch is dedicated to profiling and reviewing new Web 2.0 products and companies, along with profiles of existing companies that are making a commercial or cultural impact on the next-generation Internet. Originally launched by the hyperkinetic Michael Arrington, TechCrunch has grown into a must-read for those tracking the progress of the new new new thing, so to speak, as the Web 2.0 Bubble has expanded — and contracted. Since we first posted about it, TechCrunch has expanded into product reviews, conferences, job listings and acquired a new CEO, along with a few more contributers to ease Michael’s brutal posting schedule.

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