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Communication lies at the heart of any business. In fact I would even go so far as to say that without communication there can be no business. The folks who have the information do not even trust themselves with the instructor of business communication they have because it’s too easy to make a mistake. [...]
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Thanks to its extensibility, Firefox quickly became the favorite browser for most power users. But while extensions are a great way to make Firefox more functional, Mozilla's designers are also currently thinking about a complete redesign of the way the browser looks and feels, in order to keep up with changing usage patterns. The most radical proposal we h
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ave seen so far would do away with the standard browser tabs, and replace them with an interface that looks more like iTunes than Firefox.
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Look Daddy: No Tabs

Oliver Reichenstein and Aza Raskin, head of user experience at Mozilla, have been thinking about the future of tabs in Firefox, and some of the resulting mockups are quite intriguing.



Reichenstein argues that tabs were a good solution for an earlier age of the Internet, when users hardly ever had more than ten tabs open at any given time. Now, however, as browsers are slowly turning into operating systems, a new paradigm for organizing this information has become necessary.

The current generation of browsers does a decent job when it comes to keeping a current browser session organized, but Reichenstein wants to create a system that structures the browser more like a mutimedia file system. He proposes a new interface that looks more like iTunes than today's Firefox, with folders, libraries, and bookmarks in a sidebar.

Try Tree Tabs

If you would like to get a glimpse of what tabs on the side look like, have a look at Tree Tabs, a nifty addon that puts tabs on the side and that features a huge number of options for customizing the experience.

If you are on a netbook, for example, where vertical space is very limited, Tree Tabs (maybe in combination with Tiny Menu) will allow you to reclaim some of your screen estate.

Coming Soon: Built-In Ubiquity

Mozilla is also moving ahead with the integration of Ubiquity, a command-line style interface for common browser tasks, into Firefox's 'awesome bar.' Mozilla plans to add this project, dubbed Taskfox, into the main Firefox interface by the time version 3.6 of Firefox is released.

You can find an interactive demo here, or have a look at the mockups on this page.



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Today, streaming-video startup Qik announced a new global service called Qik Roam with Irish Deputy Prime Minister (or Tánaiste) Mary Coughlan and Irish telecom company Cubic Telecom CEO Pat Phelan on hand to kick it off. The service sounds pretty interesting - leveraging Cubic Telecom's mobile SIM techno
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logy MAXRoam to allow cell phone users to record Qik streaming video at local cell phone rates no matter where they are in the world. The only problem is, nobody outside of the room knew what was happening until the event was over.
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Qik isn't a huge company, so the presentation being held in what looked like Qik's main lobby with Robert Scoble popping in around the edges isn't too surprising. However, they made a couple of unfortunate choices during the presentation. First, using a cell phone (perhaps using Qik Roam technology?) as the primary camera meant the video was shaky and not perfectly in focus, and audio was mediocre at best. Second, the feed did not have a title on it, so visitors hitting the Qik front page only knew that a live presentation was happening - not what was happening or how far along it was. Finally, the video was horribly choppy, obviously suffering from an intermittent connection, which left the viewer waiting interminably for a few seconds of video here and there. The chat accompanying the video (which apparently is not saved after the live session concludes) was similarly full of confused and unhappy viewers.

Of course, after the event ended, the Qik software completed its job of filling in the missing pieces and the finished videos can be viewed here, now more or less unbroken. And, as we said above, the ability to have a SIM card that would allow us to use our phone's data capability and Qik video-streaming abilities anywhere in the world without additional roaming or other surcharges sounds like a pretty good deal! We've all heard of the poor guy who was stuck with the $3,000 phone bill.

On second thought, perhaps it was the fact that Scoble and MG Siegler were also streaming the event using Qik that caused the problems? We might never know.


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The Creative Commons Blog today announced that the Wikipedia community is holding a vote to move to using Creative Comments for its primary content license. The license being discussed is CC BY-SA or Attribution-ShareAlike. Although Wikipedia is already covered by the Gnu Free Documentation License (or GFDL), which is similar (and the best available choice at the time Wikipedia got start
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ed), it contains some 'potentially onerous provisions' according to the Wikimedia Licensing Update page.
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The process to get to the Creative Commons license would start by dual-licensing existing content, and then allowing new third-party content created for Wikipedia to come in just under the CC BY-SA license. This will ensure that any content shared from Wikipedia in the future can be done under the now broadly-used terms of Creative Commons licensing and without the additional restrictions required by the GFDL, which was created more for application code documentation and is slightly more stringent, for example requiring anyone using the content to include the full license code with each use.

The Wikipedia licensing Questions and Answers page contains a quote from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales which sums up the necessity of the change:


"When I started Wikipedia, Creative Commons did not exist. The Free Documentation License was the first license that demonstrated well how the principles of the free software movement could be applied to other kinds of works. However, it is designed for a specific category of works: software documentation. The CC-BY-SA license is a more generic license that meets the needs of Wikipedia today, and I'm very grateful that the FSF has allowed this change to happen. Switching to CC-BY-SA will also allow content from our projects to be freely mixed with CC-BY-SA content. It's a critically necessary change for the future of Wikimedia."


Some parts of Wikipedia are already using the Creative Commons license, like many of the images that are uploaded by contributors. However, even with Wikimedia Commons, the default is GFDL.

The voting is ongoing and eligibility to vote is extended to all users who have made at least 25 edits to any Wikimedia project before March 15, 2009. Voting ends on May 3, 2009. Instructions are on the licensing page and are fairly simple, they say to "Visit the page called Special:SecurePoll/vote/1 on a wiki for which you meet the voting conditions."

Image courtesy of the Creative Commons blog.
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Google has disabled both uploads of videos and comments on the Korean version of YouTube after the South Korean government tried to enforce a new law which requires web sites with at least 100,000 users to verify the person's real name if they upload files or leave comments. The Cyber Defamation Law, as it's called, went into effect on April 1st. According to officials at the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), the country's broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, the law is an attempt to quell the cyber-bullying and spread of misinformation on the internet. However, critics say that
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it's just another example of the Lee Myung-bak government's overzealous efforts to monitor and control cyberspace.
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The new requirements for web sites were rushed into legislation after the death of a popular Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil, who was driven to suicide after a series of online rumors and threats. Since people now have to submit their real name when uploading content, the government hopes this will cut down on the problem of cyber-bullying in the country.

Or perhaps that's just what they want you to believe, say critics. The Korea Times, for example, notes that it's more likely that the government is simply continuing its crackdown on free speech. Already they have been "repeatedly attacked by bloggers," the paper reports, "first over the controversial decision to resume U.S. beef imports, and more recently for its ineptitude in economic policies. The watershed moment came in January when police arrested Park Dae-sung, a blogger known more widely as 'Minerva' and a frequent critic of the government's economic polices, on charges of 'deliberately' undermining public interest by distributing fraudulent information."

Google Provides an Alternative Method for Uploads

In response to the new legislation, Google has decided they would rather prevent uploads and comments instead of requiring YouTube users to submit their real names and national ID number - a number similar to the United State's Social Security Number and yet another requirement of the new law.

"We have a bias in favor of freedom of expression and are committed to openness," said Lucinda Barlow, a spokeswoman for YouTube in Asia. "It's very important that if users want to be anonymous that they have that chance."

Another Google spokesperson, Rachel Whetstone, vice president of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google, was quoted in The Hankyoreh newspaper as saying  "we concluded in the end that it is impossible to provide benefits to internet users while observing this country's law because the law does not fall in line with Google's principles."



In addition to blocking uploads and comments, Google informed Korean YouTube users via their Korean Google blog that they can change their preference setting to a country other than Korea if they want to continue to upload and comment on videos.

An Easy Way for Google to Look Good?

If Google had implied with the law, it would have represented the first time that the company had ever collected the actual names of internet users.

Still, while many are congratulating Google on taking a stand and protecting freedom of expression on the internet, in this case the company wasn't really risking that much. That's because in Korea, Google has a much smaller presence than its domestic counterparts like www.naver.com and www.daum.net. Let's see how the company behaves in countries where they have a much larger market share.

Image credit: Asiajin
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9
Network World is reporting a new Twitter virus has been making the rounds today. At best the virus will auto-tweet this message: "Hey everyone, join StalkDaily.com. It's a site like Twitter but with pictures, videos and so much more." At worst, it may lock you out of your Twitter account as noted by Sheamus Bennett at Twittercism.

"Whatever you do," suggests Bennett, "don't visit StalkDaily.com. Even without registering or logging on to the site it somehow
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infects your Twitter profile." Curt Monash over on Network World, however, suggests you can get infected without visiting the site; clicking on the GangsterBoy Twitter account could be enough to cause the infection.
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While no one has been able to verify what is going on and we have had no official word from Twitter [update below], Bennet recommends the following steps to remove StalkDaily from your Twitter profile if you think you've been infected.

In your browser, clear your cache and empty all of your cookies. (This can be found in your settings.)Log out of TweetDeck or any external applications you are using.On Twitter.com, change your password.Log back in. It should be okay. If so, log back into TweetDeck et al.Go back and delete any tweets sent by you recommending StalkDaily. This is important.

Monash, who has been furiously sending messages to the @spam team to remove the seemingly malicious Gangsterboy account offers a suggestion from @pilot: disable scripts via NoScript in FireFox.

According to Bennett's latest tweet, there have not been any new instances of it in quite a while.

Update:

Twitter's Spam account has issued an update stating that it is aware of StalkDaily, is working to shut it down and recommends doing a password reset if you're locked out of your account as it may have reset your password for safety reasons.
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One role of the government is to protect the country and make its citizens feel safe through policy and regulation. But in today's digital era, policy making is moving to the people, and we are witnessing individual corporations - be they for profit or not - getting more involved in Internet standards.

A panel of industry experts convened at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco earlier this month, and moderated by ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick, discussed the issues su
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rrounding Internet standards. We've written up our notes below and hope to begin a conversation about whether Internet standards should be administrated by private organizations or our leaders in the White House.
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Standards and Government Intervention

Once upon a time, "back in the bad old days," Kirkpatrick began, "the railways of the USA all had different track widths and as a result different companies couldn't drive their trains everywhere. Once train track width was standardized, an entire new era of commerce began."

It is interesting to note that it was Congress which finally intervened and decreed that the standard width of railway tracks would be 4-foot, eight and-a-half inches after experiencing problems transporting supplies during the Civil War. The upshot? A standardized railway system that not only offered national transportation, but provided more diverse business opportunities.

Clearly, identifying and working to standards is integral to growth and success.

Web Standards and the Importance of Interoperability

Despite many great minds working on standards in an attempt to bring unity to the Web, there are still major hurdles to overcome; the biggest of which, according to the panel is interoperability.

Eran Hammer-Lahav, the director of standards development at Yahoo! explained that when people visit a site, they expect it to work in the same fashion regardless of where they visit it from; home, work, mobile, Web. "If we want to build that type of Web, we have to interoperate with other companies and we have to do it in a way that is very inclusive," he explained.

For Web designers and developers, cross-browser compatibility has been a long term issue. Each browser implements JavaScript, HTML, CSS etc. somewhat differently and this can result in a myriad of issues for the user; from barely noticeable visual differences to pages that break across browsers..

Although the W3C has created standards for the various formats in an attempt to ensure content is displayed consistently across all browsers, adhering to them is recommended only, not compulsory, and as a result many sites are still not cross-browser compatible. While this may not be a major concern for everyone, when it comes to business it's essential.

David Rudin, an attorney in Microsoft's Interoperability Group, pointed out that if you want to sell your products to governments, some will expect certain interoperability standards to be met and if your organization can't meet the expectations, your organization won't be considered.

Interoperability and Online Identity

Six Apart's David Recordon, after explaining that Facebook has been in a dominant position for years in terms of both platform and mindshare, went on to say that Facebook Connect, the service that lets you take your online identity with you all over the Web, may be just what the industry needs.

While the December 2008 news from Facebook may have been welcomed by its users, others saw its proprietary code as a direct attack on OpenID as the two systems were not interoperable. Although Facebook formalized its support of the OpenID Foundation in February this year by officially joining the board, only time will tell whether this will be beneficial to the general Internet community.

"Whenever somebody controls the market, or somebody creates the market, others jump in and look at ways to compete," added Hammer-Lahav.

But if competition is the key, it brings up an interesting question. Identification systems are not new. Microsoft rolled out Passport in 1999. Does this mean the industry has been competing for ten years, trying to develop a standard, only to return to the point where Microsoft was a decade ago? Have we gone full circle?

Interestingly, while the broader Internet community wasn't very keen on the idea of Passport ten years ago because of concerns that Microsoft would control a crucial component of the Internet; today, it is embracing Facebook Connect even though it appears that many of the same issues apply.

"Essentially, Facebook is trying to replace all logins with their own, and control the creation, distribution and application of the social graph using their proprietary platform." Chris Saad, co-founder of the Data Portability project wrote on his blog.

Additionally, with Facebook Connect, there are greater issues at stake; specifically, accountability. While Microsoft is held accountable by shareholders, Facebook, a private company, shares no such responsibility.

"The most scary part of this," Saad wrote, "is that while Facebook is quietly and methodically building out this vision with massive partners, the standards community is busy squabbling about naming the open alternative. Is it Data Portability? Is the Open Web? is it Open Social? Is it Federated Identity?"

So Who Should be in Charge of Standards

With the Internet at such a crucial governance point, the question of regulation must be considered.

Despite the success of the transcontinental railroad, in the online world, a 1984 type scenario where our actions are governed by Big Brother doesn't appeal; neither does the other extreme - total anarchy on the Internet - where people can do bad things without consequence.

So, does that mean there is a space in between the two for an alternative, and if so, should that alternative be the organizations that in the main work to their own agendas?

It's a complicated situation and we'd love to know what you think. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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The spiraling costs of supporting unstructured data such as active file archives, home directories, data migrations, media storage, and data warehouse extensions is a headache for most medium-sized Enterprises. Zetta, a startup out of Sunnyvale, CA is offering to relieve the mid-size customer of the burden of supporting their growing storage needs.
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Zetta introduced its
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lank">Enterprise Cloud Storage for primary data solution at the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando this week. Starting at twenty-five cents a gigabyte, it's a pay as you grow alternative for mid-market customers. These size IT shops have distinctive needs that limit their choices for data storage. The escalating cost of storage is in the unstructured, network-attached arena because customers have to keep email around longer; they can't purge their data the way they used to because of regulatory requirements; and the increase of electronic communications with high storage requirements results in a nightmarish unstructured data problem. Once the company realizes it's butting up against the limit of the capacity, they have two choices. The first choice is to buy more storage, but it's expensive and time-consuming and before you know it, you're at capacity and have to do it all over again. The second choice is to go with a web 2.0 option such as Amazon's S3, but those options "are not built for the Enterprise customer," according to Chris Schin, VP Products for Zetta. Schin says they lack the data protection and data integrity that the Enterprise customer requires.

Zetta's answer takes the best from both scenarios. It offers a cloud file system in a genuine multi-tenant environment, including RAID technologies, PKI based security, and geo-redundant data collection, storage and distribution. It appears to that IT professional just like the additional network-attachment storage (NAS) box he might put on his network. It takes the characteristics of the enterprise NAS files the enterprise wants and needs and adapts it to the on demand business model.

Zetta's management team has street cred in building and running multi-petabyte enterprise storage infrastructures having contributed to the commercialization of the web at Netscape and running operations at Shutterfly. But as a first mover in this space, Zetta may have a tough time convincing customers and the industry this is a sound alternative. Phil Wainewright, a leading SaaS blogger and consultant, expressed some doubt about Zetta's opportunity. "Maybe this is an advance on what mid-size businesses have previously had access to, but it's not exactly what I would call cloud storage. Fact is, if enterprises really want to benefit from cloud computing, they are going to have to learn some new APIs. Anyone that tells you different is pulling the wool over your eyes," he said.

Others in the storage game also expressed concern over the notion of outsourcing storage in general. "If you're outsourcing your primary data to another party, you're asking for trouble-- especially in this economy," said Jeff Flasco, Storage Solutions Specialist, at Ryjac Computer Solutions. "It's not something I would ever, ever recommend to a client unless they were so small that they couldn't afford it. If it's an Enterprise account? There's no way a company is going to trust 10 -50 terabytes of data to a cloud or to a company that has no background."

Zetta raised $11M in a round of financing led by Foundation Capital and Sigma Partners. The company launched in 2007 and employs 25 people. Zetta stands for 10 to the 21st power, or, a sextillion.
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31
Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, are trying to pile up enough cash from investors and their own bank accounts to buy the company back from eBay, according to an admirable scoop of a report by Brad Stone at the New York Times today.

Zennstrom and Friis sold Skype to eBay for roughly $3 billion in 2005 but no one was quite sure why. The remaining Skype team has done a fair job continuing to innovate inside the much slower moving eBay, but we've
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got our fingers crossed: a buy-back by the founders would likely put innovation in the driver's seat again at Skype.
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When the original sale was made, everyone waited to find out about some ingenious integration of the two companies. Some said the technology would enable interested buyers to call sellers online on eBay but that hardly seemed worth billions. In fact the integration never came. Skype caught fire, growing 8X since the acquisition, bringing in $500 million a year in revenue and even getting a regular spot on the Opera show and other mainstream media. According to Stone's write-up, there are now 400 million Skype users - that's twice as big as Facebook. In fact we wrote last month that Skype might be the biggest winner of the web 2.0 era.

It's not been a happy marriage, though. Ebay has suffered an existential crisis, technology integration never came and now a patent fight over the core P2P technology that Skype's inventors retained rights over is going to court. If the details of all the fighting is of interest, that's one more reason to read the Times's reporting on this. What we're interested in is what this could mean for the technology of Skype.

Let's See What They've Got, Again

We want to see Zennstrom and Friis put on the Skype jerseys again and crank one out of the park. The two have been P2P geniuses since the start, they just got some failure out of their systems with Joost and we want to see what they'll do next with a technology we and millions of other people around the world use every day.

Get Skype out of the stuffy old confines of eBay and back in the action! We'd love to see a really strong Skype voice app for Nokia and iPhones that kicks the overstuffed carriers right were it hurts - the time is right now or soon. How about an enlivened developer platform? Those are hipper now than they were when Skype was born! We'd also love to see some enhanced security so people in repressive regimes can use it again without worrying that a back door is going to let them be spied on as the Chinese government has been, for example.

The possibilities are many and we hope that Zennstrom and Friis can do what it takes to retake the wheel. Good luck gathering those billions, guys, a Skype buyback is an exciting thing to think about.



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In a recent study conducted by IBM, researchers from IBM and MIT found that the average email contact was "worth" $948 in revenue. This is believed to be the first time a specific monetary value has ever been assigned to social network contact. To arrive at that number, the researchers dove into the address books and emails of 1600 IBM consultants (identities withheld, of course) and compared the communication patterns with the consultants' performance in terms of billable hours, participated projects,
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and revenue generated.
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Close Ties = Improved Performance, More Money

In addition to determining the value of an email contact, the researchers also found that those who had strong email ties with a manager enjoyed greater financial success than those who kept themselves more distant. In fact, those with strong links to a manager produced an average of $588 of revenue per month over the norm. (So maybe you should start emailing the boss more?)

Another value tied to greater financial success was network reach. Those with a more diverse circle of correspondents - specifically, the greater the number of people reachable in three steps - was also tied to higher performance. 

Some Negative Impacts

However, if there were too many managers involved, the old expression "too many cooks spoil the broth" was proven to be true. Projects overly-managed tended to have less success.

As for those who typically emailed the same people over and over, the results were also found to be negative. This is perhaps due to repetitive and redundant information being exchanged, the researchers theorized.

The study also identified a particular type of email user dubbed a "gatekeeper." The gatekeeper was someone who insisted upon personally approving or enabling every request. The researchers determined that this person was a less valuable team member - monetarily that is. In other words, if you're constantly being asked to provide information or access to others, don't be flattered - you're just another node on a colleague's network and one that may very well be a bottleneck to the information flow.

What's better is to have a handful of "superstars" on a project who are well-connected and in the center of the information flow. This actually leads to better performance than if all team members were central to the communication pathways.

Finally, the researchers found that there were a handful of things that seemingly had no impact on performance. Those included access to different division, access to different geographical locations, and gender distribution.

Conclusion

The results of this study can only be extrapolated so far since the researchers used consultants to determine the monetary value of connections and the success of projects. In other industries and companies, there may be different factors that determine a project's success or failure.

That said, there are still some over-arching truths to be found here - and these truths are relevant to the discussions we're having on the web today. For example, just recently, there was a lot of talk about how much value there was in your Twitter network. The question was raised after Jason Calacanis offered Twitter $250,000 for placement in the "Recommended Users" section of Twitter's site for a period of two years. His contention is that there's a definite value to the number of followers you have on the Twitter social network and he wanted Twitter to sell him those connections for a set price. But was he offering too little or too much? Without more research, it's hard to know.

As our social networks continue to figure more prominently into our interactions, both personal and professional, there's likely going to be more opportunities like this to study the value of those connections. What will a Facebook friend be worth, for example? What about a LinkedIn contact? Can any study ever really tell us for sure? All we do know now is that value doesn't come from sheer numbers of connections alone, but in how you leverage them, how they're laid out in your network, and how they're interconnected with each other, too.

For more information, you can refer to the slide deck (PPT) that summarizes this study's findings.
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