Archive for May, 2005

Fingerprints For Books

22 May 2005

EnGadget reports that the public library in Naperville, Illinois, (US) now takes fingerprints of people who want to check their e-mail or surf the web using the library’s computing facilities. Library officials are implementing a system that requires authentication by fingerprint scanner before you can execute any action on a pc. This thing is just one of the silly undemocratic rules that are applied in the combat against invisible evildoers.

“There’s some mumbo jumbo flying about how your fingerprint scans can’t be reverse engineered by evildoers, and how the data can’t possibly be cross-referenced with other more notable fingerprint registries kept by the FBI and state police but we and the ACLU know the fishy whiff of privacy invasion when we smell it. Yeah, call us paranoid if you must, but it just seems like overkill to have to submit to a fingerprinting before being able to check email in a public library.”

Xeni Jardin from BoingBoing says :

“Library officials in a Chicago suburb plan to scan and record visitor fingerprints, purportedly to prevent unauthorized persons from using library computers. Way to make libraries a more happyfun haven of knowledge, guys!”

From the Washington Post :

“Library officials said they wanted to tighten computer access because many people borrow library cards and pass codes from friends or family to log on. The technology also will help the library implement a new policy that allows parents to put filters on their childrens’ accounts, officials said.

But privacy advocates have criticized the plan, which would make Naperville only the second library system in the nation to use fingerprint-scanning technology, according to the American Library Association.”

If you’re wondering why they’re doing it, the answer is also in the article. OMG, they’re not even hiding it. What kind of a country has such a profound mistrust in its population? If I get this straight, the US government is convinced everyone has something to hide. Every citizen is a potential criminal. Pretty soon, you’ll see an anti-terror squad taking over a library with teargas and brutal force because someone who didn’t pay his parking fees got recognized by the system and accidentally got marked ‘dangerous’. Nice prospects.

Here’s the quote :

“We take people’s fingerprints because we think they might be guilty of something, not because they want to use the library,” said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois.”

’nuff said.


[via EnGadget]

Article on the Washington Post
BoingBoing’s Entry on this matter

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Are Our Media Also Your Media

22 May 2005

Do you sometimes also question the current media-landscape ? Do you also have the feeling that audience-numbers, and thus commercial interests prevail ? That even public broadcasters seldom leave the beaten track ? Do you believe that citizens should also be able to exert their communication right to produce their own media ? That there is little space for the unexpected, for the local, for small things, as well as big issues ? Do you also miss auditive adventures ? With music that cannot be listened to elsewhere ? Spaces where talents get the chance to grow or even mess about in a funny way ? Where minorities get a voice and are empowered ?

In the whole of North-Belgium there are only three radio’s with an independent, non-commercial profile and organised in a basic-democratic way, by each community for its own community. Spaces where people can realise their creative ideas in a flexible way, be it on a weekly basis or a single project. Radio Scorpio (106.0 fm) in Leuven, Radio Katanga (105.1 fm) in Aalst and Radio Centraal (106.7 fm) in Antwerp. Radio Progress in Sint-Niklaas is still active, but did not get a licence during the recent round of frequency allocation in the summer of 2004.

Especially in big cities such community radios fulfill a specific and increasingly important role in terms of social inclusion and participation. It is, however, precisely there that the equally sounding commercial stations dominate the spectrum. Alternatives, on the other hand, are forced to operate at very low emission power at the margins. Take the case of Antwerp and that of Radio Centraal. The station, celebrating its 25th birthday this year, is totally independent and self-supporting without transmitting any advertising. Last summer Radio Centraal got a new licence as city radio, but due to the very technical regulation in place it can only transmit at 14watt, not enough to carry its signal across the city. In large areas of the city the radio can no longer be listened to. Because Centraal defied these regulatory limits, to reach its many publics, they were forced to pay a fine and will be taken off air for a week from 18th till 25th of June 2005.

In doing so, the Flemish media regulator is silencing one of the very few really independent and non-commercially operating radios in North-Belgium, temporary now, but structurally in the long run. Such forms of soft censorship are a democracy unworthy and cannot be accepted!

As collaborator, listener, sympathiser or just concerned citizen, we call upon you to protest against this decision and also support our aims regarding the democratic, social and cultural relevance of alternative community media, media diversity and regulation that supports such initiatives instead of gagging them.

  • For the recognition at a regional, national and international level of governance of the cultural and social benefits of (local) independent and non-commercial media-initiatives
  • For a statute of non-commercial radios
  • For the adaptation of technical norms allowing for another voice to be heard next to the abundant commercial offer

Transnational mobilisation for local actions regarding communication rights is not only important in terms of support, but also to raise awareness about the consequences of commercialisation in terms of the public sphere and the citizens right to communicate. So, please do distribute this text and URL as widely as possible!


[via Larz,D.]

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What’s Been Going On

21 May 2005

I’ve been doing some projects for school in the last couple of days. We’ve had our final presentation for our campaign in the presence of our client and some other jury members. Everything went really smooth, we’ve introduced the new logo, the campaign itself and we’ve explained our methods and predictions, based on our thorough research, polls and surveys. Points gathered, onward my brave soldiers ! The rest of the world hasn’t stopped turning, so here’s what I didn’t blog yet but think you should know.


So Nathan Weinberg from BlogNewsChannel got invited to the Syndicate Conference and has some really interesting posts about what has been said there. I’m going to filter some things out in my next post, but I think you should read all of his posts first. So, in order of appearance :

Media RSS and Podcasting
Keynote : Phil Holden on MSN
Case studies on blogging in the corporate world
RSS Market intelligence and lead generation
Wrapping up


Also, from now on you can make Google more personal and smutter the cool white page that really loads fast with tons of stuff you could just type in the searchbar to find. So God knows why you would do this, but hey… some people apparently asked for it. So go ahead, indulge yourself. Bulk it up with all types of extras.

This is how it looks like : Daub Google Here -

You can personalize and fine-tune ‘your’ Google by signing in.YES YOU’VE HEARD IT RIGHT. BY SIGNING IN. Which brings us back to the entire privacy matter and the fact they can totally link your user profile to your surfing behaviour. I’m not into this. I like my Google the way it came. White, clean and fast. Without logins and extras. Tssss. I might look and act stupid, that doesn’t mean I am. Thumbs down on this product. Somebody, release the lions !


Welcome to BlogMap – a place where blogs meet maps and location!

Philipp Lenssen from GoogleBlogoscoped posted a cool thing. Now you can track Bloggers in your neighbourhood. Nice social twist to this plot. Plus it’s really cool to see Microsoft Mappoint and geo-location tags get this work done.

Click here to check it out. [via GoogleBlogoscoped]

Here’s my FeedMap :


Lot of people, so it seems, but many of them are just numb MSN Spaces.
A few cool ones to check out – you should check out the others too, if you understand any flemish at all, but it’s not the link-o-rama here – so :

*** TriangleJuiceBlog
*** B2BeMailMarketing
*** Sken (dutch)

To be a bit more clear : I’m located under the red square that’s on the left top side of the Coolz0r display. :) Tea or coffee if you get here.

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Character Blogs & Their Relevancy

17 May 2005

A little while ago, Procter & Gamble has introduced a new product to the market named Sparkle. The target user for this product is ‘teen girls’ who are in the very heart of their development. Teen girls who are in the beginning of puberty. A very well known medium to communicate amongst the girls is the blog. So P&G’s marketing department has put together a blog that isn’t personally, but corporate. Although it gives readers a bit the impression it still is a blog from “just a teen girl’, it’s actually a promotional tool, and every post has its meaning.

Following Procter & Gamble, Unilever has also founded a character blog. This blog is about two guys looking for the perfect ‘first thing to say’ when you meet a pretty girl. Again you can see the clearly obvious promotional content of the blog, but still it attracts many surfers. It’s a new way to communicate, to support the release of a product, or to maintain customer realtionships with the possibility of instant feedback by the surfers. A unique way to experience advertisement.

From Adland :

“Unilever, owner of Axe brand, are trying to keep their brand top of mind with young lads in the united states by sending fictional characters Evan and Gareth out to try out score-lines on unsuspecting babes. Evan and Gareth ‘videoblog’ their adventures and the idea is that hopefully this whole thing will go viral, alas, it hasn’t yet. It’s been seeded on and has a seven linkbacks according to technorati so far.”

You should really check out the vblog-entries. They’re all very creative and I must say that this was a very keen move of the marketing department to make. This really brings the brand closer to the people. By far the closest than any medium I know. Because it’s a medium that ‘pulls’ the prospects. You have to key in the address, or click on a link or bookmark. You WANT to go there yourself. It fits in your life at this time. Just as the product should. It’s a flexible and interactive way to communicate. This is direct marketing as it should be. Your waste is ‘almost’ zero percent.

Evan & Gareth

“It’s not just the universe that’s changed, the media chosen is a big shift for Unilever who relied heavily on the 30-second commercial when they launched. These days reaching the target of 18- to 24-year-old men who are all armed with zapping remote controls and short attention spans isn’t easy. Unilever believes that they can reach the target by creating compelling content on the net to foster brand loyalty, they hope that the funny films will be emailed around – in short they want it to go viral. It’s not Axe’s first time on the web, had some pretty raunchy films and a little graphic content.” says Dabitch on AdLand.

“Conductor, the firm behind the campaigns for the Spiderman films is helping to launch this site. Watch for the big bang on on May 18 when a game called Mojo Master will appear on, where players can test their pick-up moves on virtual vixens using their home PCs. That kind of sounds a lot like the subservient chicken and the recent beer babes, lets hope it isn’t,” AdLand states.

May 18, that’s tomorrow ! Keep it in mind and check it out yourself !

So is this a good progression? From the marketing point of view, yes. The one goal every marketer has is to bring his product as close to the target group as (humanly) possible. We’ll dribble on the borderline of ‘about to shuv this product in your life’, but we’ll just not do that. Instead, you, the consumer, has to grab it. Preferably with both hands, hugging our product. Spreading the word. Telling others to grab it too. And I think this is exactly what this AdverBlog does. But. There’s a downside too.

Small-time intellectuals like myself and many others, who gather digital information and process it to eventually reproduce it to gain a bit of acknowledgement in the blogosphere will eventually be the victim of this hype. Being the first in a market segment, like P&G or Unilever is one thing. You’ll get what you came from. But the many thousands of companies who’ll think this is a sweet idea, which it is, will copy your moves, turning the blogosphere into the same ad-infested heaven the search engines are today.

Sponsored blogs, as we’ll call the AdverBlogs, will serve only product info. But they’ll rank on top of every query, -maybe even on the first five pages- as they do now in some derived engines that struggle to survive. It doesn’t feel right when a company ‘pretends’ to be its own satisfied customer. Especially not when it acts like a peer and serves information.
Unless there’s some sort of ‘Code of Conduct’, that forces those ‘fake blogs’ to clearly identify themselves as being ‘Advertisement’ I think this could lead to some serious misunderstandings.

Original post by AdLand
Check out the Sparkle Body Spray blog.
Check out Axe’s Evan & Gareth VideoBlog
Article in Dutch on MarketingFacts about P&G’s Sparkle.
Article in Dutch on MarketingFacts about Character Blogs.
Read the article on Second Law Marketing.

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Google Merit Badge For Boy Scouts

16 May 2005

C|Net reported that Boy Scouts in Hong Kong now can earn merit badges for learning about the wonders of copyright law–at least the version described by the Motion Picture Association. I wonder how long it’ll take them to figure out a merit badge for resolving search quests on Google.

“The MPA, the Hong Kong Scout Association, and the Hong Kong government announced the program this week. It’s the first of its type anywhere in the world.”

“The Intellectual Property Badge Award Program will provide thousands of young people–future leaders–with a better understanding of the value of intellectual property and of the importance of protecting it,” Mike Ellis, senior vice president of the MPA, said in a press release.

There’s a badge for ‘Computers’ and ‘American Business‘ too. I don’t think a ‘Google’ badge would be misplaced here. Living the ZeitGeist, we almost ‘just have to’. So here’s how I think it could look like :


The requirements to earn this wonderful Google badge should include the following for sure :

1. Do the following :

Point your browser to Google’s home page by visiting Find Google tutorials by typing [ google tutorial ] (without the square brackets) into Google’s search box and then clicking the “Google Search” button. Click on a link.

Describe how Google works, what capacity it has and name it’s dearest algorithms. Think of pet names for each one of the formulas.

2. Do the following :

Create a website that agitates on the mating behaviour of the Indonesian Chicken. Try to rank it in the top 5 for 10 keywords, including ‘chicken’.

Report your tactics in detailed bulletins.

3. Do one of the following :

a. Start a Google on your own. Report until you enter the stock market.

b. Help an old lady understand the Google Strategy and explain all the
tools and gadgets Google has released. Describe her learning process in detail and link it to three great psychologists.

I think there should be some more items, but this’ll do for now.

Check out all the badges you can earn. They’re plenty.

Read the arctile on C|Net

Stumbled upon it [ via Ronald Coleman's Blog ]

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The End Of The SEO

15 May 2005

TechWeb’s InformationWeek features an article this week about why not to cheat your site to the top of the search results. Sure it’s true if you say that better PageRanking, through SEO modifications, will increase your online sales, but the real question is : how long will this last and is it worth the investment? Search engines nowadays aren’t too happy anymore when they find out there’s cheaters who make profits using tricks to misguide the crawlers.

FYI: SEO = Search Engine Optimizer.

A little word on how the SEOs work and why their work seems to be of a temporarily nature. Quote from the article :

Basically, these companies will take what they know (or what they think they know) about how Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search rate Web pages, and then “tweak” your site to trick these search engines into thinking your site deserves to be rated higher. Here are some of the more prevalent tricks:

  • Doorway pages: This is a page loaded with nothing but links going back to your site. Sprinkle a few of these doorway pages around and lo and behold, look at all those links going to your site. Must mean that your site’s pretty important, huh?
  • Satellite sites: Similar to doorway pages, but instead of just having links on the page, why not add some content that’s on the same topic as your site? But let’s not go into the effort of actually developing new content on these pages, we can just duplicate the pages you already have, over and over and over again. And then just keep cross-linking these sites to each other. Oh yeah, that’ll fool Google.
  • Keyword stuffing: Hey, I know you just sell tennis shoes, but what if we stuff keywords into your Web pages like “Angelina Jolie,” “Brad Pitt,” “Star Wars,” or whatever topic is currently hot? Then anyone searching to find out about the new Star Wars movie will see your site selling tennis shoes. Imagine how many new orders you’ll get. Why you’ll be picking out the carpeting for your private jet in no time.
  • Hidden text: All right, it’s true that Google no longer uses the information in the keywords meta tag to rank pages. So let’s just take the keywords out of the tag and put them into the body of your page. Of course, that’d just look like gibberish to your real customers coming to your site, so we’ll make the text white and put it in front of a white background. That way it’s invisible to your customer, but the Google spider will still find it. Now, are you sure just one private jet will be enough?

Will these tricks work? Yes. In the short term they will help bump your site up a few positions on search engine results. Is it illegal to do this? No. As with most things regarding Internet law, lawmakers just can’t keep up with the pace of innovation. So what’s the downside, why wouldn’t everyone do this?
Ah, here’s the catch: Even though Google’s spider will give you the temporary bump up, it’ll also log in your site as a possible spam violation. Eventually, an extremely well-qualified software engineer from Google is going to go to your site and look through your source code, click through your links, and investigate the other sites that are linking to your site. And if he or she determines that you’re engaging in search-engine spam, that person will ban your offending pages, or even your entire site if the violations are egregious.

Read the entire article by Kin Quon on TechWeb’s InformationWeek.

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Sony NVXYZ777 RealTime 3D GPS

15 May 2005

Sony has released a new model in its Linux-based XYZ series, with touchscreen units that can display most of the streets of Tokyo in real-time 3D. The NVXYZ777 can also be mated to an optional ‘EX’ box that fits in the in-dash DIN slot, storing a 30GB hard drive that can hold map data, as well as music (and at Gizmodo, they’re pretty sure also video, since it is MPEG1/2 compatible). Market pricing is to be set less than € 2000. To synchronize the files, you have to use SonicStage 3.1. You also get a 6.5″ WVGA touch screen with a resolution of 800×480.




[via Gizmodo the Gadgets Weblog ]

Also read : In-car navigation lost on Americans

Illustrated with photos from Akihabara News.

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Behind The Scenes: Dreamworks

15 May 2005

ZD Net features a very cool webcast about the new DreamWorks work of art : Madagascar. I’ve always been a very big fan of the motion and animation this company has produced, but this movie really exceeds all reasonable boundaries of technology. DreamWorks uses the latest HP technology with AMD’s Opterons to render all the information, but they had to ‘invent’ new software that was able to render this production, because there hasn’t been any animated movie yet that featured so many individual characters, sounds and moving scenery. This webcast gives you some insights in the ‘behind the scenes’ of this massive 3D cartoon.

At the DreamWorks press junket for Madagascar in San Francisco, ZD Net spoke to the visual effect supervisor of Madagascar, Philippe Gluckman, and learned about the complexities of animation within the jungle setting–from 4 million leaves on 14,000 plants to crowds of dancing lemurs. The webcast takes about 7 minutes.

You can imagine it takes quite a machine to render 4 million pieces of scenery that all deform simultaneously in one single frame.
Also important to pay attention to is the unique mix of jungle sounds, and the nifty display of the characters in their natural junglish context.

See the webcast on ZD Net

Related posts : ZD Net : DreamWorks animation renders digital jungle.

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