Monday, January 30, 2012

What's for Sale at Georgia Square Mall

There's a booth at GA Square Mall in Athens that sells blank cds with a glossy photo sleeve.

They have two discs - one is rap/r&b, the other is apparently religious, Nu Praize. An interesting combo because the secular music has sexual references.

The two brothers who sell the discs said that the music is of their own making. I was approached by the brother who makes the instrumentation, and apparently the other brother sings. The approach was basically 'would you like to buy some music?' to which I responded 'not sight unseen' (or sound unheard). So, he played some samples on a portable cd player that had some actual singing. He was accepting two dollars or whatever I could offer. I only had three dollars on me, so I gave him that.

The glossy sleeve names two artists - Kendra Lowe on one side - a photo with a logo and no other info, and the other side shows 'Rowe' with a photo, and the copy says 'with hit sigles "Hit Me Up" ft Lloyd & "Doin My Thing" ft 2 Chainz.

There is a link edited into the video below,
and Fudashi LLC - this site has the images on the front and back of the glossy photo.

The disc which holds 13 tracks.

I searched and found this link for Kendra Lowe, along with a youtube video below:

This video features the photo that was included with the cd.

Mobile authoring links, e-books, iPad, Kindle, self publishing




Why Every Entrepreneur Should Self-Publish a Book

by James Altucher

I’ve published eight books in the past seven years, five with traditional publishers (Wiley, Penguin, HarperCollins), one comic book,  and the last two I’ve self-published. In this post I give the specific details of all of my sales numbers and advances with the traditional publishers. Although the jury is still out on my self-published books, “How to be the Luckiest Man Alive” and ”I Was Blind But Now I See”  I can tell you these two have already sold more than my five books with traditional publishers, combined.
If you, the entrepreneur, self-publish a book you will stand out, you will make more money, you will kick your competitors right in the XX, and you will look amazingly cool at cocktail parties. I know this because I am seldom cool but at cocktail parties, with my very own comic book, I can basically have sex with anyone in the room. But don’t believe me, it costs you nothing and almost no time to try it yourself.
The rest of this article is really three discussions: Why self-publish rather than use a traditional publisher, why entrepreneurs should self-publish, and finally, HOW does one go about self-publishing.
A) Advances are going to zero. Book publishers are getting more and more squeezed by declining booksellers so they, in turn, have to squeeze the writers. Because of so much free content on the Internet, the value per unit of content is going to zero unless you are already an established name-brand author.
B) Lag time. When you self-publish, you can have your book up and running on Amazon, paperback and kindle, within days. When you publish with a traditional publisher its a grueling process: book proposal, agents, lawyers, meetings, edits, packaging, catalogs, etc that ensures that your book doesn’t actually get published until a year later. Literally, as I write this a friend of mine just IMed me the details of his book deal he just got with a mainstream publisher. Publication date: 2014.
C) Marketing. Publishers claim they do a lot of marketing for you. That’s laughable. I’ll give you a very specific story. When I published with Penguin they then met with a friend of mine whose book they wanted to publish. They didn’t realize she was my friend. She asked them, “what marketing did you do for James Altucher’s book”. They said, “well, we got him a review in The Financial Times and we got a segment about his book on CNBC and an excerpt in”
Here’s what’s so funny. I had a weekly column in The Financial Times. I WROTE my own review. As a joke. For CNBC, I had a weekly segment on CNBC. So naturally I spoke about my book during my regular segment. And for excerpt, I had just sold my last company to So instead of doing my usual article for them I did an excerpt. In other words, the publisher did NOTHING, but took credit for EVERYTHING. Ultimately, authors (unless you are Stephen King, etc) have to do their own marketing for books. The first question publishers ask, even, before they look at your proposal is, “How big is your platform?” They want to know how you can market the book and if they can make money on just your own marketing efforts.

D) Better royalties. i.e. when I self-publish I make about a 70% royalty instead of a 15% royalty with a traditional publisher. I also own 100% of the foreign rights instead of 50%. I hired someone to sell the foreign rights and they get 20% (and no upfront fee).
E) More control over content and design. Look at this cover for “SuperCash” designed by a traditional publisher for me (this was my third book). It’s hideous.
Now look at the cover for my last book (self-published), “I Was Blind But Now I See”. You may or may not like it but it’s exactly what I wanted. Publishers even include in the contract that they have final say over the cover and this is one detail they will not negotiate.
You also don’t have any teenage interns sending you editorial comments back that you completely disagree with. YOU control your own content.

A) You have content. I have enough material in my blog right now (including my “Drafts” folder which has 75 unpublished posts in it) to publish five more books over the next year. And I’m sure that number will increase over the next year as I write more posts. You’re an entrepreneur because you feel you have a product or an idea or a vision that stands out among your competitors (if you don’t stand out, pack it in and come up with a new idea).
You know how to do something better than anyone else in the world. How do let the world know that you are better? A business card won’t cut it. People will throw it away. And everyone’s got a website with an “About” button.
Give away part (or all) of your ideas in a book. You’re a brand new social media agency? How should social media work? Write it down. You’re a new CRM software package? How should CRM be better? Tell me. How should online dating services work? Tell some stories. Heck, make them as sexy as possible.
Don’t have time to write it. Then tell it to a ghostwriter you outsource to for almost no money. You don’t need 60,000 words. Do it in 20,000 words. Throw some pictures in. Just do it. Then when you meet someone and they ask for your business card, how cool will it be when you can say, “here, take my book instead.”
B) You have more to say. More and more companies have blogs. Many of the posts on the blog are “evergreen”. i.e. they last forever and are not time specific. If you just take the posts (mentioned in the point above) and publish them people will say, “he’s just publishing a collection of posts”. A couple of comments on that.
1. So what? It’s ok if you are curating what you feel your best posts are. And for a small price people can get that curation and read it in a different format.There’s value there.
2. Don’t just take a collection of your posts.  A blog post is typically 500-2000 words. Usually closer to 500. Do a bit more research for each post. Do intros and outros for each post. Make the chapters 3000-4000 words. Make a bigger arc to the book by using original material to explain WHY this book, with these chapters, presented in this manner is a different read than the blog. Have a chapter specifically explaining how the book is different from the blog.
With my last book, “I Was Blind But Now I See” I had original material in each chapter and several chapters that were completely original. Instead of it being a collection of posts, the overall book was about how we have been brainwashed in society, and how uncovering the brainwashing and using the techniques I describe can bring happiness. This was covered in a much more detailed fashion than the blog ever could even though the material was inspired by several of my posts.
 C) Amazon is an extra platform for you to market your blog. Or vice versa. You won’t make a million dollars on your book (well, maybe you will – never say never) but just being able to say, “I’m a published author” extends your credibility as a writer/speaker/enterpreneur when you go out there now to sell your book, syndicate your blog elsewhere or to get speaking engagements, etc. And when you do a speaking engagement, you can now hand something out – your book! So Amazon and publishing become a powerful marketing platform for your overall writing/speaking/consulting career.
D) Nobody cares. Some people want the credibility of saying “Penguin published me”. I can tell you from experience – nobody ever asked me who was my publisher when Penguin was my publisher. And, by the way, Penguin was the worst publisher I ever had.
E) How will I get in bookstores? I don’t know. How will you? Traditional publishers can’t get you there either. Often bookstores will look at what’s hot on Amazon and then order the books wholesale from the publishers. In many cases, tradtional publishers will take their most-known writers (so if you are in that category, congrats!) and pay to have them featured at a bookstore. As for my experience, my traditional publishers would get a few copies of my books in the bookstores of major cities (i.e. NYC and that’s it) but nothing more.
There’s lots of ways to do it but I’ll tell you my experience.
A) First write the book. For my last two self-published books, as mentioned above, I took some blog posts, rewrote parts of them, added original material, added new chapters, and provided an overall arc as to what the BOOK was about as opposed to it just being a random collection of posts. But, that said, you probably already have the basic material already.
B) I used createspace because they are owned by Amazon and have excellent customer service. They let you pick the size of your book and then have Microsoft Word templates that you download to format your book within. For my first book I did this by myself, for my second book, for a small fee, I hired to format the book, create the book design, and create the final PDF that I uploaded. He also checked grammar, made proactive suggestions on font (sans serif instead of serif) and was extremely helpful.
C) Upload the PDF. Createspace approves it, picks an ISBN number, sends you a proof, and then you approve the proof.
D) Within days its available on Amazon. It’s print-on-demand as a paperback. And by the way, your total costs at this point: $0. Or whatever you used to design your cover.
E) Kindle. All of the above (from Createspace) was free. If I didn’t hire Alex to make the cover I could’ve used over 1mm of Createspace’s possible covers (I did that for my first book) and the entire publishing in paperback would be free. But with Kindle, Createspace charges $70 and they take care of everything until it’s uploaded to the Kindle store. Now you are available in paperback and kindle.
F) Marketing.
1. Readers of my blog who asked for it got the first 20 copies or so for free from me. Many of them then posted good reviews on Amazon to get the ball rolling.
2. I’ve been handing out the books at speaking engagements. Altogether, I’ll do around 10 speaking engagements handing my latest book out.
3. I write a blog post about how the bo0k is different from the blog and why I chose to go this route.
4. Writing guests posts for blogs like Techcrunch helps and I’m very grateful.
5. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ are also very helpful.
G) Promotions. You’re in charge of your own promotions (as opposed to a book publisher.). For instance, in a recent blog post I discussed the differences between my latest book and my blog and I also offered a promotion on how to get my next self-published book (“Bad Behavior”, expected in Q1 2012) for free.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to stand out, promote their service, and get validation for their offerings. Writing a book makes you an expert in the field. At the very least, when you hand someone a book you wrote, it’s more impressive than handing a business card. It shows that you have enough expertise to write the book. It also shows you value the relationship with the potential customer enough that you are willing to give him something of value. Something you created.
And you can’t say the excuse “I don’t have time, I’m running a business.” Entrepreneurs make time. And they have the ideas so, again, at the very least you can use to hire a ghostwriter.
Over the next year I have five different books planned. All on different topics. I’m super-excited about them because I’m allowed to push the barrier in every area I’m interested in and there’s nobody to stop me. There’s nobody I need validation from. I get to pick myself.
You can do this also. And now, you should do it. There’s no more excuses in this environment. Good luck and feel free to write me with any questions.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Microsoft Kinect for laptops

Movement in space

Microsoft’s latest home for Kinect technology: portable computers

Microsoft’s drive to integrate Kinect technology into a wide array of products is not slowing.

A few weeks ago at CES, the company announced a desktop version of the Kinect, but it also seems the boys and girls in Redmond, Wash., are hard at work integrating the motion-sensing technology into portables.

The Daily had a chance to check out a pair of prototypes incorporating Kinect sensors over the last few days. The devices, which at first glance appear to be Asus netbooks running Windows 8, feature an array of small sensors stretching over the top of the screen where the webcam would normally be. At the bottom of the display is a set of what appear to be LEDs.

A source at Microsoft has confirmed that the devices are indeed official prototypes of laptops featuring a Kinect sensor. In terms of functionality, there are hundreds of different ways that motion control could be leveraged in a portable. Gaming has the most obvious applications, but a Kinect-enabled laptop could also toggle between programs with the wave of a hand, or media controls could be tweaked with the wag of a finger. What’s more, motion-controlled portables could offer a new way for disabled individuals to interact with their devices.

Microsoft will probably not be making its own portables in-house. Rather, the tech giant will most likely license the Kinect technology to hardware manufacturers, much like it already does with Windows.

Innovation in the portable Kinect space will likely not come directly from Microsoft either. The tech giant seems more apt to put the platform in the hands of developers. We will likely see this occur next month, when a public preview of Windows 8 becomes available.

Microsoft’s plan to get the Kinect out of the living room and into other devices seems to be picking up momentum every day. Besides the company’s CES announcements, we reported on its efforts to create a Kinect-supported television set last November. While it’s very possible this project might be shelved, there’s solid evidence to support a Kinect-enabled set-top box, as reported by The Daily earlier this month.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Athens, Georgia 1947

From the Brown Media Archives at UGA

New Monty Python movie, 'Absolutely Anything'

'Absolutely Anything' will reunite Monty Python gang

How do you tell a reunion movie? For starters, if it looks like one — and Absolutely Anything certainly looks like one. EW has confirmed that Anything, a sci-fi farce that will combine CGI and live action, is in development and on track to reassemble the old Monty Python gang. Python alum Terry Jones developed the story — it’s about a group of aliens who use an earthling as their plaything — with Gavin Scott. Jones is also set to direct.
At present, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin are all signed on to the film. “Eric [Idle] knows about the project” but isn’t confirmed yet, said producer Chris Chesser. Also producing is Mike Medavoy (Black Swan), who goes back as far as 1979′s Life of Brian with the Python crew. An inspired addition to the troupe, Robin Williams will lend his voice to a wry talking dog named Dennis, and Medavoy hopes he will sign on for a live-action role as well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Udacity and the future of online universities


By Felix Salmon

The most exciting (but also, in a small way, slightly depressing) presentation at DLD this year came from Sebastian Thrun, of Stanford and Google. Or formerly of Stanford, anyway.
Thrun told the story of his Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class, which ran from October to December last year. It started as a way of putting his Stanford course online — he was going to teach the whole thing, for free, to anybody in the world who wanted it. With quizzes and grades and a final certificate, in parallel with the in-person course he was giving his Stanford undergrad students. He sent out one email to announce the class, and from that one email there was ultimately an enrollment of 160,000 students. Thrun scrambled to put together a website which could scale and support that enrollment, and succeeded spectacularly well.
Just a couple of datapoints from Thrun’s talk: there were more students in his course from Lithuania alone than there are students at Stanford altogether. There were students in Afghanistan, exfiltrating war zones to grab an hour of connectivity to finish the homework assignments. There were single mothers keeping the faith and staying with the course even as their families were being hit by tragedy. And when it finished, thousands of students around the world were educated and inspired. Some 248 of them, in total, got a perfect score: they never got a single question wrong, over the entire course of the class. All 248 took the course online; not one was enrolled at Stanford.
Thrun was eloquent on the subject of how he realized that he had been running “weeder” classes, designed to be tough and make students fail and make himself, the professor, look good. Going forwards, he said, he wanted to learn from Khan Academy and build courses designed to make as many students as possible succeed — by revisiting classes and tests as many times as necessary until they really master the material.
And I loved as well his story of the physical class at Stanford, which dwindled from 200 students to 30 students because the online course was more intimate and better at teaching than the real-world course on which it was based.
So what I was expecting was an announcement from Thrun that he was helping to reinvent university education: that he was moving all his Stanford courses online, that the physical class would be a space for students to get more personalized help. No more lecturing: instead, the classes would be taken on the students’ own time, and the job of the real-world professor would be to answer questions from kids paying $30,000 for their education.
But that’s not the announcement that Thrun gave. Instead, he said, he concluded that “I can’t teach at Stanford again.” He’s given up his tenure at Stanford, and he’s started a new online university called Udacity. He wants to enroll 500,000 students for his first course, on how to build a search engine — and of course it’s all going to be free.
Udacity looks great, and I can’t wait for it to be a revolutionary success, educating and empowering students around the world, especially in places like Africa and India, and, in those places, especially women.
But I have to say I’m a little sad that it’s happening away from, rather than being part of, Stanford. If any world-class university would embrace this idea, one would hope it would be the one at the heart of Silicon Valley. And surely Udacity would only benefit if it was part of Stanford and carried the Stanford brand name. Instead, Thrun is abandoning Stanford and creating Udacity on its own. (And I’m no great fan of the name, either.)
Stanford was willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a new physical campus in New York City — but it isn’t willing, it seems, to help Thrun build a free virtual campus which could reach the whole world. That’s a dereliction of its educational duty. But where Stanford has failed, surely some other elite university will step in. Thrun is taking a bold step here. Let’s hope he soon gets the support, if not of Stanford, then of some other college. Like Harvard, or Yale, or Oxford, or Cambridge. They’re exclusive places now. But they don’t have to be, in the future.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Genetically Engineered Stomach Microbe Converts Seaweed into Ethanol

A genetically modified strain of common gut bacteria may lead to a new technology for making biofuels that does not compete with food crops for arable acreage

Seaweed may well be an ideal plant to turn into biofuel. It grows in much of the two thirds of the planet that is underwater, so it wouldn't crowd out food crops the way corn for ethanol does. Because it draws its own nutrients and water from the sea, it requires no fertilizer or irrigation. Most importantly for would-be biofuel-makers, it contains no lignin—a strong strand of complex sugars that stiffens plant stalks and poses a big obstacle to turning land-based plants such as switchgrass into biofuel.
Researchers at Bio Architecture Lab, Inc., (BAL) and the University of Washington in Seattle have now taken the first step to exploit the natural advantages of seaweed. They have built a microbe capable of digesting it and converting it into ethanol or other fuels or chemicals. Synthetic biologist Yasuo Yoshikuni, a co-founder of BAL, and his colleagues took Escherichia coli, a gut bacterium most famous as a food contaminant, and made some genetic modifications that give it the ability to turn the sugars in an edible kelp called kombu into fuel. They report their findings in the January 20 issue of the journal Science.
To get his E. coli to digest kombu, Yoshikuni turned to nature—specifically, he looked into the genetics of natural microbes that can break down alginate, the predominant sugar molecule in the brown seaweed. "The form of the sugar inside the seaweed is very exotic," Yoshikuni told Scientific American. "There is no industrial microbe to break down alginate and convert it into fuels and chemical compounds."
Once he and his colleagues had isolated the genes that would confer the required traits, they used a fosmid—a carrier for a small chunk of genetic code—to place the DNA into the E. coli cells, where it took its place in the microbe's own genetic instruction set. To test the new genetically engineered bacterium, the researchers ground up some kombu, mixed it with water and added the altered E. coli. Before two days had gone by the solution contained about 5 percent ethanol and water. It also did this at (relatively) low temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius, both of which mean that the engineered microbe can turn seaweed to fuel without requiring the use of additional energy for the process.
An analysis from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (pdf) suggests that the U.S. could supply 1 percent of its annual gasoline needs by growing such seaweed for harvest in slightly less than 1 percent of the nation's territorial waters. Humans already grow and harvest some 15 million metric tons of kombu and other seaweeds to eat. And there's no reason to fear the newly engineered E. coli escaping into the wild and consuming the seaweed already out there, Yoshikuni argues. "E. coli loves the human gut, it doesn't like the ocean environment," he says. "I can hardly imagine it would do something. It would just be dead."
The microbe could turn out to be useful for making molecules other than ethanol, such as isobutanol or even the precursors of plastics, Yoshikuni says. "Consider the microbe as the chassis with engineered functional modules," or pathways to produce a specific molecule, Yoshikuni says. "If we integrate other pathways instead of the ethanol pathway, this microbe can be a platform for converting sugar into a variety of molecules."

The fact that such a one-stop industrial microbe can turn seaweed into a variety of molecules has attracted the attention of outfits such as the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, or ARPA–e, which has funded BAL work with DuPont to produce other molecules from such engineered microbes. "Because seaweed grows naturally in the ocean, it uses the two thirds of the planet that we don't use for agriculture," ARPA–e program director Jonathan Burbaum wrote in an e-mail. "ARPA–e is directing a small portion of the remaining funding toward an aquafarm experiment to measure area productivity and harvest efficiency."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Facebook Credits Gaining Influence and Momentum

2 articles originally combined via

George Anders, Contributor

Is Facebook a Central Bank, Too?

Facebook’s 27-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg, isn’t usually mentioned in the same breath as Ben Bernanke, the  58-year-old head of the Federal Reserve. But Facebook’s early adventures in the money-creating business are going well enough that the central-bank comparison gets tempting.
Everything started quietly, in 2009, with the experimental launch of Facebook Credits, billed as “the safe and easy way to buy things on Facebook.” Anyone who chipped in $5 from a Paypal account, Visa card or the like, could do the equivalent of changing money on an overseas trip. Voila! — $5 turned into 50 Facebook Credits.
Initially, the Credits-based economy was confined to the virtual world’s trifles. Credits could be spent to buy imaginary gold bars for aficionados of Mafia Wars, or bouquets of virtual flowers for birthday postings on friends’ Facebook accounts. This new form of digital money was cute but essentially useless for mainstream activities.
Lately Credits have become more intriguing. Warner Brothers this summer offered movie-goers a chance to watch “Harry Potter” and “The Dark Knight” for 30 Credits apiece. Miramax and Paramount countered with film-viewing offers, too. In a provocative post this week on Inside Facebook, guest blogger Peter Vogel argues that Credits in the next few years will become more of a true currency. Facebook’s 800 million worldwide users represent a lot of buying power. He figures Credits could evolve into commercial mainstays for digital movies and music.
Vogel has a personal interest in seeing Credits take off. He is co-founder of Plink, a customer-loyalty program in which people earn Facebook Credits by eating at participating restaurants.  Plink is just getting started, and no one knows yet how much traction his company ultimately will enjoy. But such uncertainties can’t stifle Vogel’s ebullience. He predicts that the Facebook Credits economy could double every year for the next five years.
Already, Credits looks very rewarding for Facebook, thanks to built-in commissions or transactions fees. Merchants participating in the Credits economy receive 70 cents of every dollar spent on their wares; the other 30% goes to Facebook. That’s in line with the way that Apple Inc. runs its iTunes store. It’s far more lucrative than the 2% to 5% fees associated with credit cards or currency-exchange counters in the traditional economy.
Facebook won’t say how much it’s making from Credits, but the research firm of eMarketer offered up a widely quoted estimate in September. Its tally: $470 million of revenue in 2011, or about 11% of Facebook’s total business. Costs associated with the Credits program are likely to be trivial. So while advertising remains Facebook’s dominant source of revenue, banking looks like an alluring second way of making money — literally.
Edward Castronova, a telecommunications professor at Indiana University, is fascinated by the rise of what he calls “wildcat currencies,” such as Facebook Credits. He has been studying the economics of online games and virtual worlds for the better part of a decade. Right now, he calculates, the Facebook Credits ecosystem can’t be any bigger than Barbados’s economy and might be significantly smaller. If the definition of digital goods keeps widening, though, he says, “this could be the start of something big.”
In the short term, Facebook may choose to move cautiously with its Credits-based economy. Company executives are likely to have their hands full the next few months, trying to manage a successful initial public offering of stock. Moving too aggressively into banking could invite more government regulation than Facebook wants.
Still, Facebook’s buildup of Credits suggests more than just a minor dalliance. Facebook already takes payment for Credits in more than 40 currencies — ranging from the euro to the Vietnamese dong. Exchange rates are adjusted daily.  It probably won’t be long until some economist tries to calculate the inflation rate, money-supply velocity or other traditional dimensions of the Facebook economy.
If Facebook at some point is willing to reduce its cut of each Credits transaction, this new form of online liquidity may catch the eye of many more merchants and customers. As Castronova observes: “there’s a dynamic here that the Federal Reserve ought to look at.”


Predictions for Facebook Credits in 2012

[Editor's note: This is a guest post by Peter Vogel, co-founder of Plink, which lets consumers earn Facebook Credits for dining out and shopping online. He argues the rise of Open Graph applications will push Facebook Credits beyond social games and one-off experiments to become a major source of revenue for Facebook and developers.]
Although Facebook Credits is still primarily an in-game currency, in 2011 we began to see a glimmer of what Credits will look like when it grows up.

Movie studios like Miramax, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, not to mention BBC Worldwide began offerings movies and TV shows for rent on Facebook. As an example, in promotion of “Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol,” the series’ first three movies were made available for rent on Facebook for 30 Credits per rental. In addition, to promote the launch of “Tower Heist,” Universal Pictures gave away 1 million Facebook Credits ($100,000 value) in an online scavenger hunt. DJ David Guetta began selling MP3s on his Facebook Page (19 Credits per track) and U.K.’s “Big Brother” and “The X Factor” began allowing fans to vote for contestants using Facebook Credits.
These examples, however, were few and far between in 2011 and it’s fair to say that even most Facebook users don’t know what Credits are for. 2012 is the year this will change.
Prediction 1: Facebook adds subscription billing as an option for Facebook Credits
Currently companies who sell virtual goods or products on Facebook can only accept one-time payments via Facebook Credits. For example, a player can use a small amount of virtual currency to buy a new cow in Zynga’s FarmVille. But media companies such as Netflix and Spotify would need a monthly billing plan. Consumers could agree to pay 100 Facebook Credits for monthly access to movies or music and would agree to be billed monthly. Until Facebook adds a monthly billing feature, it will be difficult or nearly impossible for many of the largest media providers to accept Credits.
Facebook will continue to improve the Credits platform in other ways as well to make it more functional and profitable for developers to use. Credits is the primary way, if not sole way, most developers generate revenue, so you can be sure that Facebook is truly committed to making Credits as flexible and effective a currency as possible.
Prediction 2: Open Graph Partners, including Spotify and Netflix, start to accept Credits
 During its F8 conference, Facebook announced 17 music partners who would integrate Open Graph, allowing users to share their listening and other behaviors with friends. Spotify initially gave users a six-month free trial. Now, though, the nearly five million new members who’ve been getting unlimited free music will be limited to 10 hours a month and only five plays per song — not that much for a real music fan. Look for Spotify to add Facebook Credits as a payment option for these new users, potentially even offering special introductory rates to entice users to commit to a year-long membership.
In addition, a few notable facts lead me to believe something big is coming from a Netflix/Facebook partnership.
  1. Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings joined the Facebook Board of Directors in June of 2011.
  2. Netflix recently signed deals with BBC, DreamWorks and Disney to increase the quality of available streaming content.
  3. A piece of legislation cleared the House and is on its way the Senate that would reverse a law enacted in 1998 that forbids public disclosure of video rental records. This would prevent the sharing of movies being watched between Facebook users. Much as users now have “Like” or “Listening to …” labels, it’s widely anticipated there would be a “Watching” tag as well.
This increased level of sharing could dramatically increase the number of Netflix movies watched and shared on Facebook, leading to a Facebook-only Netflix plan that could be paid for with Facebook Credits.
Prediction 3: The size of the Facebook Credits economy will double every year for the next five years
Similar to Moore’s Law, which famously predicted that the number of transistors than could be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles every two years and Mark Zuckerberg’s Law that (scarily to some) states that people will be willing to “share” twice as much each year, I believe the Facebook Credits economy will double every year for the next five years.
This is based on the staggering amount of new ways that people will be earning and spending Facebook Credits over the coming years and the international growth, which will follow innovation in the U.S. This is conservative based on reports we’ve already seen that global revenue from Facebook Credits more than tripled in size from 2010, $140 Million, to $470 million in 2011. By 2016, Facebook Credits could be a $15 billion business.
What’s driving this? One example is the efforts by Milyoni, one of Facebook’s leading commerce and video streaming platforms. This year, Milyoni was responsible for hosting the first ever movie available for rent on Facebook, Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight,” at a cost of 30 Facebook Credits. Milyoni also hosted the first ever live pay-per-view concert on Facebook, “Widespread Panic” live from Austin, Texas, at a cost of 50 Credits. This year, according to Dean Alms, VP of strategy and marketing at Milyoni, they have deals in place with 13 movie studios and expect to offer 3,000 movies for rent on Facebook. That’s compared to less than 100 films offered in 2010. In addition, the company has plans to stream 40-50 live concert and events available on a live pay-per-view basis, compared to just two in 2010. Multiply this by other innovative companies and you get an idea of what’s to come this year and beyond.

Final Take:
Facebook has proven that the Credits model can work in social gaming, which represents between 25-30 percent of Facebook users, and will now utilize the same model to first enter the business of music, movies, TV and any other shareable media, before entering larger industries like financial services and health care in the coming years.
While still relatively unknown, Facebook Credits will emerge and begin to mean very real cash to a quickly expanding group of first-mover entrepreneurs and innovators who are just starting to get a whiff of the opportunities presented by the Facebook Credits economy.
It’s for real and it’s here.
Peter Vogel is co-founder of Plink, a Facebook Credits-based loyalty program that rewards Facebook members for dining and making purchases at their favorite restaurants and stores. Reach him via email at or follow him on Twitter @pvogel.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MS damage washed away by stream of young blood

from the article:

A FOUNTAIN of youthful cells reverses the damage found in diseases like multiple sclerosis, a study in mice reveals.
Nerve cells lose their electrically insulating myelin sheath as MS develops. New myelin-generating cells can be produced from stem cells, but the process loses efficiency with age.
Julia Ruckh at the University of Cambridge, and colleagues, have found a way to reverse the age-related efficiency loss. They linked the bloodstreams of young mice to old mice with myelin damage. Exposure to youthful blood reactivated stem cells in the old mice, boosting myelin generation.
White blood cells called macrophages from the young mice gathered at the sites of myelin damage. Macrophages engulf and destroy pathogens and debris, including destroyed myelin (Cell Stem Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2011.11.019)
"We know this debris inhibits regeneration, so clearing it up is important," says team member Amy Wagers of Harvard University.
Neil Scolding at the University of Bristol, UK, who was not involved in the new work, says reactivating ageing stem cells may be a more realistic approach for treating MS than transplanting stem cells from a donor.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Next-generation video screen glasses could lay messages or GPS over your field of vision

By Gavin Allen

As advances in computer technology make gadgets ever smaller and more portable the idea of carrying a screen of any kind could soon be outdated. 
Consumer products with screens have dropped in size from computer to laptop to tablet via phone.
But one company specialising in cutting edge visual technology waIsraeli company Lumus has shown off the PD-18-2, which may look like a cumbersome pair of shades but allow the user to see high-quality images while they walk.nts to beam information directly into your field of vision.
Translucent TV: Lumus' PD-18-2 is a set of spectacles that can beam high-quality images directly into your eyes but allows the user to see through the images too
Translucent TV: Lumus' PD-18-2 is a set of spectacles that can beam high-quality images directly into your eyes but allows the user to see through the images too
Instant messaging: Text and icons can be laid over your field of vision so that users can work on the move
Instant messaging: Text and icons can be laid over your field of vision so that users can work on the move
Lumus, an Israeli company, specialises in what it calls Light-guide Optical Element (LOE) technology.
It's latest product is the PD-18-2, which may look to the untrained eye like a cumbersome pair of sunglasses.  
But inside the lenses of the glasses, the user can see high-quality full colour images.
Products like this are already on the market for professional and military use, but where the next-generation PD-18-2 differs is that users can see though the spectacles too, instead of having the images block their vision.
The translucent lenses allow for what the manufacturer calls 'augmented vision', overlaying images or graphics over your usual field of vision.
They are designed for professionals such as pilots, surgeons and soldiers but there are hopes that it can be adapted for the consumer market so people could watch film or TV on the move, or play video games as they walk around.
How it works: Lumus speciaises in what it calls LOE technology - Light-guide Optical Element
How it works: Lumus speciaises in what it calls LOE technology - Light-guide Optical Element
Heavy duty: The spectacles have to contain the technology, which currently makes them more cumbersome than your average shades
Heavy duty: The spectacles have to contain the technology, which currently makes them more cumbersome than your average shades
It works by collecting image components from a micro display and projects them into the eye to create a large virtual image with SVGA resolution
'Following the successful deployment of our first generation PD-18-1 in combat aviation, ground soldier and assembly applications, we are pleased to release our next generation PD-18-2 that takes our competitive superiority to a whole new level,' said Dr. Eli Glikman.
'Our new display offers even higher brightness, increased contrast ratio, sharper image, improved image uniformity and enhanced optical efficiency.'
The company currently sells its products to aviation companies as well as military, medical and maintenance markets.
Contact lens: The electronic attachments to the 'glass' contains a mini-projector to beam the images into your eyeline
Contact lens: The electronic attachments to the 'glass' contains a mini-projector to beam the images into your eyeline
But the possibility of a move into the consumer market has already brought mixed reactions from technology watchers.
It could be extremely useful as a portable GPS system, but there are concerns that it could be distracting for pedestrians who can often be seen walking round with their heads buried in mobile phones.
One commenter, Erin Altman, wrote in a technology forum: 'Bad idea alert! Just like hands-free devices for cell phones, these things will give people a false sense of security. They will THINK they can still see what's going on around them but will be way too focused on the display instead.'
Another commenter wrote: 'It's bad enough already that people walk around texting and on the cell phones... an example of the DOWNSIDE of technology.'

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Smart TVs

"We must know who these mutants are and what they can do."

Personally, I'm thinking more about content creation and means of distribution.

Think about Kinect merging with other media like GPS, and the real deal will be smart glasses and blended reality. I think it's going to be getting really weird around here.

There will have to be compelling content to drive the Smart TVs. I would tend to think that these smart TVs will be effectively like big iPads, and if the price point is right, the addiction factor of mobile devices, social media/chat, and web surfing is certainly chumming the waters, but bring on the aforementioned advances and maybe some practical usage, and you have justification. Back in the day, VR was the buzz word, but this could really make it happen. Think haptics ala reach and out touch someone.

I'm no eager consumer. Afterall, it took my mom buying me a kindle fire to get me out of the stone ages. I was outcast as untouchable for waiting until Fall of '07 to get a cell phone and I'm still peeling off the dry rot today.

Consumers don't buy what they need, they buy what crosses their minds once the impulses are properly seeded into the nerve centers, and that's what propaganda is good for. You're watching the rumors and lies channel, brought to you by Paranoia. Sponsored by the 7 Deadly Sins. Let the gladiatorial combat and zombie porn begin.


Smart TVs: The next tech war is in the living room 

Hawking their wares at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, the world’s top television manufacturers are bent on making a splash: They’re trying to sell a whole new approach to television.
In a world where the latest gadgets are automatically expected to be hooked up to technology “ecosystems” — apps, Internet connectivity and access to social networks -- television makers are banking on the fact that couch potatoes will want to see their friendly living-room TV get in on the act.

We’ve heard this all before. The idea of a “smart” television has been around for a few years, and Google introduced its Google TV platform in May 2010, promising to put all the convenience of the Web onto the largest screen in your home. But a little over a year later, the idea has yet to take off, hampered by low adoption and a lack of hardware partners.
All that’s changing this year for Samsung, LG, Sony and Lenovo, to name a few. Microsoft has proven with the Kinect — which chief executive Steve Ballmer announced had sold 16 million units to date — that there’s a market for quality apps on your television. Even Google has the chance at a second wind, having partnered with several of the major television manufacturers, each offering its own take on putting the TV back to the center of home entertainment.
Samsung is working on integrating voice and motion control into its new sets, enabling users to speak commands to their TVs or change channels and other settings with just a wave. Vizio is the first to join with the cloud-service company OnLive to put streaming games on its Google televisions. All Google TV partners have added the OnLive Viewer app, which lets users manage their accounts and watch others play games, to their app ecosystems with the promise that gameplay will be close behind. Sharp is augmenting its huge television lineup with access to apps from Netflix, Hulu and Facebook.
To compete, the companies will have to offer carefully curated, high-quality applications and be open to supporting mobile devices such as tablets. Other media companies have already started: Comcast, for example, announced that it’s going to allow OnDemand streaming not only to Samsung Smart TV’s but also to the iPad.
The TV makers are hoping that the multitude of additional features will be enough to trigger turnover like the industry saw after the introduction of flat-panel screens, Bloomberg noted. It’s a big market, if the television makers can figure out how to crack it. A consumer media report from Nielsen released Friday showed that 114.7 million American households have at least one television and that almost one-third of of those households have four or more sets.
But the big manufacturers have to fight the historically long television buying cycle: Consumers are more hesitant to upgrade to newer televisions than to trade in their smartphones, computers and other devices for the latest model.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Obama picks immigration reform advocate to lead domestic policy

By Amie Parnes and Erik Wasson - 01/10/12 03:30 PM ET
President Obama has picked a strong advocate of immigration reform to head his Domestic Policy Council.
The White House announced Tuesday that Cecilia Muñoz, a former senior vice president of the National Council of La Raza, would replace Melody Barnes at the top of the council. White House press secretary Jay Carney announced the appointment during his press briefing.

Muñoz is now serving as the White House's director of intergovernmental affairs and is in charge of outreach to state and local governments. "The president has asked, she has accepted," Carney said.

Muñoz is an immigration expert who worked for the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, until she joined the administration in 2009. The group works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans and advocates legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Obama has frequently been criticized by pro-immigration reform advocates for not pressing harder for changes to the country's immigration laws. Hispanic groups also have complained that the administration has stepped up deportations of illegal aliens.
All of this has led to questions about whether Obama will garner strong support from Hispanics in his 2012 reelection bid. It is crucial to Obama's reelection that he win a large majority of the Hispanic vote, particularly in critical swing states such as Florida, New Mexico and Colorado.
Carney called Muñoz "the best person for the job."

In her new role, Muñoz will become the president’s senior adviser on domestic affairs that fall outside the strict purview of the National Economic Council, which is headed by Gene Sperling.

“Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted advisor who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out,” the president said. “Cecilia has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle class families, and I’m confident she’ll bring the same unwavering dedication to her new position.”
A senior administration official credited Munoz's work on immigration and disaster relief and said she has successfully brought the voices of local and state officials into the White House through her work at the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
"She's the perfect fit for this job," the official told The Hill. "This is someone who is very much ready for the position."
On immigration, she has been the president's "key person" on the issue "working to fix the system that's broken" the official said, adding that she brings 20 years of immigration policy with her to the post.
While her new post will continue to give Hispanics a "strong voice," administration officials said she wasn't given the position to pander to that community. "She's immensely qualified for this position. She's someone who is very much respected by her colleagues."
At the same time, "she's not afraid to make her viewpoints known," the official said.
The National Immigration Forum, which supports providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, applauded the Muñoz appointment while saying it underlined the need for Obama to take action.
"With this move, the pressure is on the president to move forward with an aggressive domestic policy agenda" on immigration," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. He said this agenda should include focusing enforcement on security threats and not on immigrant workers and families "caught up in a broken system."
The group later amended Noorani's statement to call on action by Congress as well.
"While Ms. Muñoz’s appointment is a positive step, at the end of the day, Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform," Noorani said in the amended statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the appointment, saying Muñoz "has developed strong relationships with members of Congress in Washington and activists nationwide, and a sterling reputation as a powerful voice on behalf of comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform." 
She said the appointment reflected Obama's "strong and ongoing commitment to diversity across his administration."
Barnes left her position at the end of last month and is looking for work in the private sector. On Monday the White House announced that Chief of Staff Bill Daley will soon step down and be replaced by Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew.
Carney said there is no word yet on who will replace Lew as Budget director. In the briefing he offered praise for congressional liaison Rob Nabors, a man insiders think has the best shot at the job.


The Obama administration has extended temporary protected status to El Salvadoran nationals through late 2013, shielding them from deportation and forcible return to their home country.
The Department of Homeland Security cites ongoing disruptions from a series of earthquakes in 2001, concluding that "El Salvador remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals."
The Obama administration's deportation policies have come under scrutiny, just as the president has geared up for his reelection campaign. Despite his support for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship, deportations have soared to new highs under the Obama administration— and the president's approval ratings among Latino voters have flatlined.
Hugo Martinez, El Salvador's Foreign Minister, was in Washington this week to discuss the policy and meet with Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano. The protected status designation currently applies to 215,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. illegally and otherwise subject to deportation, and remittances from ex-patriate Salvadorans in the United States help keep that country's economy afloat.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Free Online Education

See also

See also Academic Earth:

M.I.T. Game-Changer: Free Online Education For All

James Marshall Crotty, Contributor

 For Wall Street Occupiers or other decriers of the “social injustice” of college tuition, here’s a curveball bound to scramble your worldview: a totally free college education regardless of your academic performance or background.  The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) will announce on Monday that they intend to launch an online learning initiative called M.I.T.x,which will offer the online teaching of M.I.T. courses free of charge to anyone in the world.

The program will not allow students to earn an M.I.T. degree. Instead, those who are able to exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on the platform will receive an official certificate of completion. The certificate will obviously not carry the weight of a traditional M.I.T. diploma, but it will provide an incentive to finish the online material. According to the New York Times, in order to prevent confusion, the certificate will be a credential bearing the distinct name of a new not-for-profit body that will be created within M.I.T.
The new online platform will look to build upon the decade-long success of the university’s original free online platform, OpenCourseWare (OCW), which has been used by over 100 million students and contains course material for roughly 2,100 classes. The new M.I.T.x online program will not compete with OCW in the number of courses that it offers. However, the program will offer students a greater interactive experience.

Students using the program will be able to communicate with their peers through student-to-student discussions, allowing them an opportunity to ask questions or simply brainstorm with others, while also being able to access online laboratories and self-assessments. In the future, students and faculty will be able to control which classes will be available on the system based on their interests, creating a personalized education setting.

M.I.T.x represents the next logical evolution in the mushrooming business of free online education by giving students an interactive experience as opposed to a simple videotaped lecture. Academic Earth (picked by Time Magazine as one of the 50 best websites of 2009) has cornered the market on free online education by making a smorgasbord of online course content – from prestigious universities such as Stanford and Princeton – accessible and free to anyone in the world. Users on Academic Earth can watch lectures from some of the brightest minds our universities have to offer from the comfort of their own computer screen. However, that is all they can do: watch. Khan Academy, another notable online education site, offers a largely free interactive experience to its users through assessments and exercises, but it limits itself to K-12 education. By contrast, M.I.T.x will combine the interactivity of the Khan Academy with the collegiate focus of Academic Earth, while drawing primarily from M.I.T.’s advanced course material.
“M.I.T. has long believed that anyone in the world with the motivation and ability to engage M.I.T. coursework should have the opportunity to attain the best M.I.T.-based educational experience that Internet technology enables,” said M.I.T. President Susan Hockfield in the university’s press release.
According to the university, residential M.I.T. students can expect to use M.I.T.x in a different way than online-only students. For instance, the program will be used to augment on-campus course work by expanding upon what students learn in class (faculty and students will determine how to incorporate the program into their courses). The university intends to run the two programs simultaneously with no reduction in OCW offerings.
According to the New York Times, access to the software will be free. However, there will most likely be an “affordable” charge, not yet determined, for a credential. The program will also save individuals from the rigors of the cutthroat M.I.T. admissions process, as online-only students will not have to be enrolled in the prestigious, yet expensive, university to access its online teaching resources.
Those chomping at the bit to dive into M.I.T.x will have to wait, as the university doesn’t plan to launch a prototype of the platform until the spring of 2012. According to M.I.T. Provost L. Rafael Reif and Anant Agarwal, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, the prototype might include only one course, but it would quickly expand to include many more courses.
Once launched, M.I.T. officials expect the M.I.T.x platform to be a giant hit amongst other universities looking to create or expand upon their online course materials.  “Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining,” said Agarwal in the M.I.T. press release.
Whether M.I.T.x will directly threaten the margins at for-profit online universities, such as the University of Phoenix, APUS, or DeVry remains to be seen. But as M.I.T.x starts to provide many of the salient virtues of for-profit online colleges, such as a robust learning management systems and real-time virtual interaction, these publicly traded education companies might have to lower fees in order to compete with M.I.T.x’s compelling free price. In addition, the success of M.I.T.x, OCW, and Academic Earth may push dramatic technological innovation at for-profits, so that they can maintain a unique selling proposition versus their free competitors. Moreover, as the rapidly growing number of what are termed “self educators” choose free college education, a cottage industry of social media support services might evolve to bring them together for free in-person study and help sessions.

Which is all to say that, against this country’s sizable need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) graduates, M.I.T.x is nothing short of revolutionary. This is especially true if you aren’t a credential freak and, like me, just want to improve your chops in a marketable subject area. Heck, maybe Gene Marks’ (“If I Were a Black Kid”) tech-based view of education can become a reality after all.