All posts by Carlos Granier

Google TV is coming (and we told you so)

The New York Times (Google and Partners Seek TV Foothold) and Web TV Wire (Google TV On Way – Search Giant Teams With Intel & Sony For Android-Based Set-Top Box) are reporting that…

Google and Intel have teamed with Sony to develop a platform called Google TV to bring the Web into the living room through a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes. (NYT)

RED66 readers (yes, all three of you) got a glimpse of the future and already knew about this development four years ago, when I wrote about “Google Media.” Some choice quotes from that article:

Google has been quietly getting ready to bring the power of its brand and technology to the way you experience music, television and media in general.

Google has the equipment and expertise necessary to set up a massive media distribution and tracking network, integrated into their existing search and advertising technologies.

Google is also making inroads into the set-top box business, hoping to bring television media straight into your television (whether it’s in your living room or your mobile phone).

At the time I wrote that article (April, 2006) I made a mock-up of what a Google Media Dashboard could look like, based on their Google Finance interface. What do you think?

Google TV Dashboard

Read the original article here: Google Media.

And, as always, feel free to comment below and share it with your friends (hint: use the retweet button at the end of the article).

Unboxing “The World According to Twitter”

Today I received my autographed copy of “The World according to Twitter” (TWA2T) by David Pogue and a couple thousand of his Twitter friends. In the tradition of tech geeks everywhere, behold: the unboxing of TWA2T!

Here we go:

1. The original package with a dog logo. I had NO IDEA what this was.

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2. Anticipating it could be Pogue’s book, I quickly ripped into it:

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3. YES! My own copy of The World according to Twitter:

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4. Here it is, in it’s full glory:

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5. I jumped to the first page, to find the book autographed to me – that’s my Twitter name there, @cgranier:

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6. The index shows every contributor, cross-linked to the page(s) where their tweets ended up. In the end, three of my tweets made it into the book, on pages 98 and 181:

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7. Here’s one of them:

What’s your brilliant idea to improve the modern automobile:

Car’s paint color should change (à la mood ring) to indicate temper of driver. –@cgranier

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8. And the other two:

Rewrite a famous quotation in the style of the half-wits who leave comments on YouTube.

2 B R NOT 2B, DAT IZ DE ? –@cgranier

Dewd, like I don care where u go, but 4 me, I haz liberty or kill me. FTW! –@cgranier

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I spent the better part of the evening reading through the book and couldn’t stop laughing. It’s simply hilarious (well, at least the other 2,521 tweets). The wit and creativity of its contributors had me in side-splitting laughter from the beginning. Get a copy or two. I’ll even sign it if you want 😉

UPDATE: Here’s a short video David Pogue made, documenting the book signing:

Pogue’s Twitter-Book Signing Day from david pogue on Vimeo.

David Pogue attempts to sign 1500 books in one day.

UPDATE: Here’s an excerpt from the book… 28 free pages:

The World According to Twitter

If you’re in the book, leave me a message with your username so I can look up your funny tweets. And please feel free to share this post with all your Twitter friends. I’ve made it really easy: just click the retweet badge located at the top and bottom of this post, or just click here.

Thanks!

TuneUp for iTunes Review

Is your iTunes library filled with tracks identified by “Track 01,” “Track 02,” “Various Artists,” “Unknown Album” and so on? Are your eyes sore from looking at all those missing covers when using Cover Flow? If so, then read on; TuneUp might just be the tool you need to clean up your music library once and for all.

TuneUp Logo

TuneUp is a music library management tool for iTunes that will help you identify all your un/mislabeled tracks, find missing cover art and even tell you when your favorite band is playing in town.

Once installed, TuneUp will launch itself any time you run iTunes and dock to the right of the iTunes window. Once there, a simple drag-and-drop from iTunes will get the magic going. TuneUp creates an acoustic fingerprint of each track and uses that to compare it against a massive online database of songs. It then uses this information to fill out the ID3 tags in your iTunes music collection.

So, how good is it? In short, it’s very good – almost magical. Users of the Shazam iPhone app already know what I’m talking about. That said, it’s not automatic, it won’t find every song and it won’t get every song right.

I ran an initial test with 101 unidentified songs. Nine minutes later it was done. On this first test:

  • 30 tracks were not found.
  • It tends to identify songs as part of compilation albums and not the original albums (this has been fixed in a more recent version).
  • It misidentified “Desert Rose (Melodic Club Mix)” as “Desert Roses & Arabian Rhythms” instead of “Desert Rose (Club Mix)” by Sting, from the album Desert Rose.
  • It correctly identified a number of obscure Venezuelan songs.
  • It identified a remix of Don’t Stop by No Doubt as a “Thunderclap” from a sound effects album.

After this initial test, I contacted the TuneUp crew to see what was up.

It turns out TuneUp creates its acoustic fingerprint using the first ten seconds of each song. This can lead to some interesting errors. In the case of the No Doubt song, that particular remix begins with a thunderclap sound – no amount of magic could identify it correctly. Shazam (on the iPhone) uses whatever part of the song you’re currently listening to, so the matches tend to be more accurate. It’d be nice if TuneUp randomized the part of the track it uses for fingerprinting. During informal tests, I found Shazam would give more satisfactory results than TuneUp; unfortunately, Shazam does not integrate with iTunes.

I was told a new version of TuneUp was available that gives you the option to avoid compilation albums so I downloaded it and ran even more tests.

This time I threw 442 tracks at it. It couldn’t find 46 and misidentified about ten.

Once again, it worked quite well, correctly identifying and cleaning most of my tracks. Even though it has a very good undo function, you can’t really use the Save All function. I felt much more comfortable making sure each song had been correctly identified (which of course makes the process a whole lot longer).

Of note during the extended test:

  • It correctly identified obscure groups like the Tufts Belzebubs (Go Jumbos!) and Venezuelan folk songs like “Alcaraván Compañero” (which I highly recommend you listen to).
  • Cat Stevens’s “Peace Train” from the album “Remember Cat Stevens” (according to Shazam) was id’d as belonging to the album “1971 – Das Jahr und seine 20 Songs.” I found that TuneUp’s database has a preference for non-US albums.
  • Several tracks were identified as another track from the same album. This is likely a problem with the database. Among these: “One Fine Day” id’d as “His So Fine” and “Who’s Got My Back” id’d as “Don’t Stop Dancing” by Creed.
  • “Azul” from Cristian Castro was id’d as “Azul Gris” – a different song from a different album by the same artist.
  • Sometimes, the images offered as album art were flagged as non-compatible. Picking a different image from the drop-down list usually cleared this issue.

All in all, TuneUp is an excellent power tool for your iTunes library. Be prepared to spend some time with your music library, though. In the end, you’ll be glad you did and your music library will be much more useful (and all that new album art? it looks great on your iPod!).

If I gave out stars on this blog, I’d give TuneUp 4 out of 5.

Available for Mac and Windows. Go give it a try… meanwhile, I’ve got 1700 tracks with no album information that need cleaning.

(Disclaimer: TuneUp gave me a Gold subscription so that I could perform this review. The free version is limited to cleaning 100 tracks.)

How to send group emails from your iPhone

UPDATED: Now works with most email services and eliminates the Invalid Address dialog box. Thanks to commenter YF, Luke for the fix.

Ever wanted to send an email or photo to a pre-defined group of contacts on your iPhone? This trick will let you create unlimited email groups (or distribution lists).

It’s a good thing the iPhone now has cut-and-paste, as it makes this trick a lot easier to implement. Here’s hoping the iPhone engineers don’t take three more revisions to add group emailing.

This trick was inspired by a workaround I found for Gmail back when it didn’t allow us to create groups or distribution lists (See: Creating distribution lists in GMail).

To begin, go into the Notes app in your iPhone and type all the email addresses you wish to include in the group, separating each with a comma.

UPDATE: Use the following format when typing your e-mail addresses to avoid the Invalid Addresses dialog or AOL/Comcast mail server errors.

name1<email1>,name2<email2>,name3<email3>,namen<emailn>

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Alternatively, you can type this list in your computer, copy it into the body of an email and retrieve it in your iPhone. The reason we need to type the addresses and copy them is because you can’t type commas in the email field of the Contacts app.

Select all the addresses and copy them to the iPhone‘s clipboard:

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Go into the Contacts application and create a new contact for your distribution list. Type the group’s name into the contact’s Company field. Use something simple to type later on, such as GF for your family group or GW for your work group.

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Paste the addresses you copied before into the contact’s email field and, if you like, change the field’s label to a custom value like “group mail.”

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Go into your Mail app and create a new message. Type the group name in the To: field until it shows up in the list below, then select it:

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

The group’s name will now show up in the To: field.

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Type your message and send it. The following dialog will pop up. Ignore it and hit Send once more:

UPDATE: With the updated instructions this dialog will not pop-up! Nor will you receive an error message from your ISP’s mail server.

Screenshots for article on using email groups in iPhone Mail

Presto! Instant distribution lists on your iPhone. The beauty of this trick is that it works anywhere you use the Mail app… so you can now send multiple photos to multiple contacts at once.

New Google Analytics Reporting Features

Google Analytics has implemented a number of new features (which you may or may not see in your account yet, since they are in beta). I haven’t had the chance to play around with them, but this is what they look like:

The Advanced Segments tool allows you to filter your reports by up to four pre-designed or custom segments:

Top Content - Google Analytics

This is what the Custom Segment creator looks like:

Create Advanced Segment - Google Analytics

Once you select your segments, you’ll get a detailed report:

Google Analytics - Advanced Segments

The final new feature I found is Customized Reports, allowing you to quickly look at the data you find important – for instance, how your keywords are performing in a particular market:

Create Custom Report - Google Analytics

Google has published this short video, explaining how to build a Custom Report. Watch it to get an idea of how powerful these new tools are.

With this newfound flexibility, Google Analytics bridges the gap to more expensive analytics solutions.
Need help installing, running or analyzing your website’s analytics? Drop me a line…

How to Make Money With Digital Media

Hulu - 24

The first question that comes out of any Media Executive when I mention New Media is “How will we make money?” To which I always answer “How will you make money without new media?”

However, they make a valid point: this is a business and if we can’t make money at it then we should be doing something else. So let’s try and figure out what it takes to make money online with your content.

Old Media Revenues

Let’s begin by looking at the costs of making television content and its associated advertising revenue. I’ll be using Fox Network’s “24” as an example.

  • Producing one episode of “24” costs around US$4,000,000.
  • Each 30 second advertising spot during “24” sells for around US$364,000.
  • Each episode of “24” is seen by around 10 million viewers.

If Fox sells 100% of the advertising slots on “24”, they make 364,000 x 2 x 16 = US$11,648,000. The cost to each advertiser is US$364,000 / 10,000,000 viewers x 1,000 = $36.4 CPM (cost per one-thousand viewers). If FOX wants to supplant their television network with pure online distribution, then they need to find 32 advertisers, each willing to pay $36.4 CPM, and -more importantly- ten million viewers willing to seat through 32 advertisers while watching their shows online. Good luck with that, but it’s not happening.

Old Media Models, New Media Tools

Remember that you’re not trying to replicate your business model online, you’re trying to supplement it and, eventually, re-invent it. You’re giving your viewers the convenience and freedom to watch your content when they want to, how they want to and where they want to. All you need to do is make sure A=B: let every viewer who migrates online represent as much revenue as they did on TV. Many will still watch you on BOTH places.

Fox Networks has an interesting problem here: they make about one dollar for every viewer. That’s a $1,164 CPM rate (remember, even though it costs each advertiser $36.4 CPM, Fox can potentially sell 32 ad slots during each episode of “24”, netting them $1.16 per viewer – think about that the next time you pay $1.99 per episode on iTunes).

Now, Fox cannot get anywhere near a $1.1K effective CPM rate for online content, but CBS can apparently sell their shows online at higher advertiser CPMs than on television, and Hulu is selling ads at $20 CPM, so let’s assume Fox can sell eight spots on each online episode of “24” at $40 CPM (for argument’s sake). That makes Fox $320 per thousand viewers.

New Media Thinking

So, how do you design your new media strategy? Think about the following ways to maximize the revenue around your online content:

  • Get your content online, it adds to your regular programming.
  • Give the viewer the choice to watch your content online.
  • Foster a community around your content: it’s all about the engagement.
  • Online lets you target and personalize advertising. Use it to your advantage and charge a premium for it.
  • Your online audience will tend to be younger and more attractive to advertisers.
  • Online content will not cannibalize your regular programming, it will enhance it.
  • Use online distribution to your advantage: if you run out of inventory, find partners that will give your content additional exposure.
  • Allow the viewer to gain control.

And remember, the time is NOW.

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