Archive for June, 2005

Microsoft Planning To Take Over Claria?

30 Jun 2005

Microsoft is reportedly eyeing yet another acquisition, but this buyout may prove to be a lot more controversial. Redmond is in talks to buy Claria, the company that is behind the adware program Gator, which has been criticized for its actions in serving unwanted pop-ups and tracking Web usage.

Hello, people ! Time to wake up !

“According to press reports, the most recent offer by Microsoft was $500 million; however, the negotiations may break off before a deal can be made. There are fears that such a deal may send the wrong message to consumers, as Microsoft’s own anti-spyware program detects Claria software as “high risk” and recommends deletion.”

“However, others at Microsoft see the acquisition as a way to clean up the adware industry by taking out one of its biggest offenders and using the technology in more acceptable ways.”

Read more on [BetaNews] about this

C|Net reported about Claria on february 14th :

Claria “[...] is launching a new marketing division and advertising service to migrate from hawking its signature pop-up advertisements to selling behaviorally targeted display ads. If it has its way, the ads will appear on publisher pages across the Web, reaching as many as 200 million people. To address the privacy implications of such an ambitious service, Claria has also hired a team of experts to ensure it meets industry and consumer clearances. Claria plans to announce partners and introduce the service, called BehaviorLink, in April.”

[...] Quoting [myself on May 6th] :

“So you’re only being submitted to behavioral advertisement if you’re using some sort of software (often freeware) that has ties with GAIN.
Still, that market is estimated on 40 million users and BehaviorLink has set its target to expand the market to 200 million users by engaging in partnerships with as many small software and tool providers as possible.”

Concluding :

If Microsoft plays this card right, MSN might have some serious competition up its sleeve with a technology that can easily compete with the Adsense programs that are running on Google or Yahoo.

Microsoft has, if the takeover’s for real, A LOT of consumer information too, since Claria, previously known as Gator, specializes in collecting this.

Related posts on Coolz0r :



Yahoo Social Search Beta

30 Jun 2005

MyWeb 2.0, a search personalization tool that uses elements of social media to improve search results combines elements of tagging and wikis, and lets users change the titles of Web pages, annotate them and add descriptive tags.

“The 1.0 version that has been released in April allows users to save pages to a “personal Web,” rate pages and block them from ever appearing again in search results. The new version extends these abilities to a trusted community. Users first must set up their communities, or social networks, by inviting others to join. They can use e-mail or import contacts from the Yahoo Address Book, Messenger buddy list or Yahoo 360 community.

Anyone within the community can influence search relevance in several ways. While My Web 1.0 lets users save pages into folders, 2.0 lets them simply tag pages with one or more words that describe the page content. Pages previously saved in 1.0 folders will be tagged with the folder name, and users can import bookmarks, as well.

Users can publish their saved pages for public access or share them only with people in the network.”

“Full arcticle on [InternetNews]

Nathan has some links lined up :

[YSearch Blog] [MyWeb 2.0 Blog] [& Many Others]
[Sign In Chez Yahoo!]


Mikhail Khodorkovsky Needs Me

29 Jun 2005

Today, I’ve been contacted by Ms.KIMAEVA LIOUDMILA, the personal secretary to Mikhail Khodorkovsky the richest man in Russia and owner of the following companies: YUKOS OIL (Russia’s Most Largest Oil Company) – Menatep SBP Bank (A well reputable financial institution with its branches all over the world). They need my help very urgently, but I’ll be rewarded with app. 180 million dollars for my efforts. Here’s how that goes :

“Dear Friend,I have a profiling amount in an excess of US$450M, which I seek your partnership in accommodating for me. You will be rewarded with 40% of the total sum for your partnership. Can you be my partner on this?

I am Ms. KIMAEVA LIOUDMILA, a personal secretary to Mikhail Khodorkovsky the richest man in Russia and owner of the following companies: Chairman CEO: YUKOS OIL (Russian Most Largest Oil Company) Chairman CEO: Menatep SBP Bank (A well reputable financial institution with its branches all over the world)

The documents of the above funds in question was handed over to me to be used in payment of an American oil merchant for his last oil deal with my boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Already the funds have been deposited with A TRESURY SERVICES PLC UK ,where the final crediting is expected to be carried out. While I was on the process, My Boss got arrested for his involvement on politics in financing the leading and opposing political parties (the Union of Right Forces, led by Boris Nemtsov, and Yabloko, a liberal/social democratic party led by Gregor Yavlinsky) which poses treat to President Vladimir Putin second tenure as Russian president. You can catch more of the story on this.

All I need from you is to stand as the beneficiary of the above quoted sum and I will arrange for the documentation which will enable A TRESURY SERVICES PLC UK transfer the sum to you. I have decided to use this sum to relocate to American continent and never to be connected to any of Mikhail Khodorkovsky conglomerates. The transaction has to be concluded in 2 weeks before Mikhail Khodorkovsky is out on bail.
As soon as I get your willingness to complythrough my most private email address [] I will give you more details.
Thank you very much


I’ve been wondering whether or not to answer this. It’s so tempting. But I don’t know if the ‘Russian Scammers‘ are as stupid as the African ones. Maanzand has created a pretty good story around his Nigerian Friends. You should read [ 'My Friend Kennedy Mobutu'.]

To be clear, I’ve reported Miss Kimaeve Lioudmila with the FCCU because there was no attractive picture of her attached to the mail. And because I didn’t buy the story.

As a personal friend of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Miss Lioudmila, I know that he doesn’t send out emails to people like me. Because I know he knows that people like me who get this sort of e-mail, will laugh about it and make it public.

I must say Mister Khodorkovsky doesn’t seem to take much care of his internet PR, because the reply address doesn’t seem to be related to the companies you, Miss Lioudmila, have named in the message above.


WhenU Is Legal

29 Jun 2005

TechDirt has a report on the lawsuit against WhenU, a case I’ve been following very closely and that is very related to the lawsuits against Gator, now Claria, and other GAIN network members.

Excerpt from previous post :

[...] It has always been important to collect data from your customers, in order to be able to guarantee them a personal approach. The right way to gather information is to let people send it in voluntarily, but apparently that doesn’t always result in the expected response. So companies started to find new ways to gather information, some of them less legit than others. To define the border between ‘letting people agree to share their data’ and ‘having the data without actual consent’ is a rather difficult matter, [...] [Read it]

As I’ve reported earlier, the court ruled against WhenU with this verdict:

“[...]the judge granted the preliminary injunction based only on trademark infringement, considering the likelihood that WhenU’s pop-ups could mislead or confuse 1-800-Contacts visitors as to the origin of the ads.”

Apparently, this verdict has been overthrown now :

From TechDirt :

“Adware maker WhenU has been involved in most of the lawsuits over this issue — as some companies were upset that WhenU popped up competing ads when people visited their sites.

In the various lawsuits, the ability to pop up competitor ads was found legal the first and the second time. However, the third time the case came up, a judge said they were illegal. However, it looks like an Appeals Court has now overturned that ruling and said that it’s perfectly legal to do those popups, given that people want them.

This is the right decision. We have no problem with lawsuits against these companies for doing sneaky installs, or other efforts to get that practice to stop. But, at the end of the day, if you want to change your browsing experience on your computer, that should be your right — even if it involves additional ads.”

Good news for Claria and BehaviorLink, seems to me.

Read [Mike's contribution on TechDirt] “Appeals Court Overturns Bad Decision About Adware”

Interesting discussion going on in the comments overthere:

Quote Mike “You do see the difference, don’t you? If they’re being tricked, that’s a problem. However, the lawsuit ISN’T about people being tricket, but whether or not it’s illegal to have these popups at all. It’s not. It’s perfectly legal, and the court agrees.

You can hate the Adware companies all you want (and I do), but you’re doing more harm than good fighting them on the issues that they’re right on, rather than focusing on the many, many areas where they’re definitely doing wrongs.”

Read it on C|Net News, [Court gives Adware maker WhenU green light, by Stefanie Olsen]
Also related : Things you should tune in to right now
and Behavorial Advertising part 1 and part 2


Forget Me Not Phones

29 Jun 2005

If you think the forget-me-not-panties were the end of the line, boy have you been barking up the wrong tree. Kokuyo’s Doko Line takes things just a notch further. Introducing : the GPS panic button and attack alarm.

Engadget reports :

“Not only will it send an email to your Mum if you step outside a predefined 300m-5km zone, it’ll also inform the support centre at your local radio station in order to mobilize the community in a search for your wayward ass.”

Forget Me Not Phones

To be sold “to schools, care facilities and medical institutions to track the inmates, and the GPS box that comes with the service also includes a panic button and attack alarm. The unit will sell for Y29,800 ($270), with service costing you a further Y1,500 ($14) a month.”

Gareth Edwards on [Engadget]
Original Press Release [right here]
[Forget Me Not Panties]


Blog Dinner Aftertalks

29 Jun 2005

Looks like many other bloggers have been posting pictures and words, so I’ll link them up here, with some nice pics in between. Many of the posts are in Flemish, so it’s quite possible you can’t understand what is written. Nevertheless, ‘pixels’ is a universal lingo.
Et pour les Wallons la même chose.

Very nice pics with very nice comments on VH’s Flying Circus.
Thanks for linking me up ! The linking is mutual :)

BD4 LVB, Coolz0r and Bart from Clickx and Vacature.
BD3 Making conversation with Maarten Schenk, a core-developer of Skynet Blogs, and currently happily promoting home-employment, TypePad and MoveableType for SixApart’s Belgian and Dutch market.

In the end he decided not to throw the plate ;)

Rik Boey sits next to me.

BD2 VH’s very nifty shirt. No comment.
BD1 Tanguy Veys, Visual Hugo and Luc Van Braekel, the ‘political corner’. As you can see, the VH almost fits twice in Tanguy. That says a lot about politics. Heheh.


[VHBlog's Photos] 71 pieces

[The BlogDinnerPool on Flickr] 80 pieces and hopelfully counting.

[LVB's Pixagogo Gallery]

Link-a-roony mostly in Flemish :

LVB – Geslaagde blogdinner in Gent
Smetty – Blog Dinner, The Day After + twee
Michel Vuijlsteke – Uitgegaan – [spin off]
Kerygma – één + twee
Visual Hugo – één + twee
Tanguy Veys – Bloggers blaffen, maar bijten niet - denkt hij.


Blog Dinner Gent

28 Jun 2005

So, today was my first Blog Dinner. I must say I really had a great time chatting with other bloggers, especially with Maarten Schenk. If there is an ubergeek, surely folks, this is the man. Of course there just wasn’t enough time to see everybody I wanted to see, and to talk to everybody I wanted to talk to, but the summary of the night leaves me with a lot of stuff to think and blog about.

Things kicked off just great when I picked up Rik Boey, who needed a lift to the FondueHouse. I was there at six pm, but traffic from there on was hell on earth. We drove slower than a pedestrian for about two or three miles, just to get to the access route to the highway. Man, that took like half an hour already. I had my doubts of getting there in time, so I called ahead to Talie Van Hecke and Ingmar De Langhe, who we were supposed to meet before ‘going in’, and told them traffic was jammed.

Then after the hectic circus called the biggest construction site of the century [choose english - top right to have a good laugh], We were tempestuously heading for Ghent at a steady 150 km/h. (93 miles an hour or so) Normally the speed limit is 120 km/h but if I kept it, even the trucks passed me by. We listened to some French rap on the way there, the album of Antilop Sa (L’encre enguise de larmes) and the one from La Boussole (On fait comme on a dit). Entering Ghent, we had to look around a little before we found our way, but my co-pilot had done his homework. Seven’o ten and parking.

So in the end, we made it even faster than we had planned. Talie and Ingmar had found a spot in the sun already and were cozily drinking some freshly poured alcohol. Sweet. Bring it on. We joined them and ordered ours. I was dessignatedly driving, so the wuss in me said no. Mentally I was up for it, I swear. :)

While enjoying the sun, we started to look around for faces we could pin a blog upon, and with some youthly excitement we started to discuss ‘nerdly’ things like Google’s Video User Submissions that had been released today. More specificly, we talked about some problems Philipp Lenssen from Google Blogoscoped seemed to be having getting his video’s ‘out there’. Also a few of Nathan’s remarks were quoted. Like this one : ‘Searching for actual video is difficult, since it is mixed in with all the television content that, while just as relevant, is not viewable.

Nathan has a point. Google should try to structurize things a little so you could perform a more directed search. (*nodding heads)

Apparently the guy at the table next to us was no one other than Michel Vuijlsteke himself, nature’s closer upper. You should definitely see the beautiful pics he makes from earth’s multilegged creatures he finds when he’s out in the open or sitting in his bath tub. Apparently he ‘does’ humanoids as well. I wasn’t aware of that. Didn’t had the time yet to go through his archives. Here’s a cool pic I’m particularly fond of :


Shortly after the discovery of Mister Vuijlsteke, Maarten Schenk arrived at the scene. Rik, my co-pilot for the day and night, had already worked with Maarten on a project for their common youth movement interests, so he was the first one to recognize Mister Typepad. We had a few drinks and laughs, and it was six thirty. Time for some fondue !

Apparently we weren’t the first to enter, but that was just great. I hate it to be first. Cindy De Smet (Smetty) from and Erwin Van Hunen from DopplerRadio were there to welcome us with open arms and an appetizer ‘maison’, some peach flavored bubbly wine with Blue Curaçao in it.

We checked in, gave up or refused to give up our rights to be photographed and displayed on the www, and x-marked the box that allowed your e-mail address to travel other places. Yeah. Privacy issues. A major issue for bloggers :)

We all made ourselves an old fashioned nametag, but I’d brought mine, as I had promised Randy, the R|Mail inventor I hooked up with a new logo. I’m trying to get the word out, so Maarten, the Dutch page is coming to a blog near you before the end of this week ! In the end, most some of the nametags were a collection of url’s that ‘kind of’ represented the name in between the addresses. What else did you expect from geeks like us?

Then I had a talk with Bart De Waele from NetLash, Jan Schuer from SmartSchool, Maarten Schenk and some others of which I only remember the faces. Sorry guys ! Well it wasn’t really a talk. It was more like an open-source or wiki discussion where people just added phrases and comments to what was being said. A cool way to converse. Goes really fast and many topics get ’scanned and analyzed’ in fact we covered about the entire actual blogosphere in fifteen minutes, I think. Then it finally was dinnertime.

I wish I had a chance to talk to Ilse Baetslé [kerygma] about how schools could use blogs to really integrate ict for starters and next to create a community that goes beyond the school walls. I’ve been talking this through with Jonas, a friend of mine who’s a teacher. He really likes the idea of a schoolblog with categories for each class and each subject, and maybe even a forum where kids could post competition announcements for their after-school sports clubs or more personal things. Rik Boey said kerygma was into this, I didn’t know. Damn. Well, if he’s going to be a journalist, he sure has the gift to target interesting folks. She’s on the ‘must talk to’ list for sure.

I’d also like to talk to Fred Truyen from the university of Leuven once. I think he should have some very interesting visions about how e-learning and scolar-ict should look like. That’s something I’d like to know more about. Next time. On the list. :)

So… the fondue. It was great. A cool photographer from DeStandaard
hung around our table practically all night and we had a superb time. We laughed a lot, and Maarten Schenk even had a small competition set up between him and the photographer. They both took a picture from each other and compared who would have his picture published first. So Maarten then uploaded his pic the moblog way. 1-0 for the new media versus the old. Hahah. Nerd humor. Ain’t it cute?

During dinner we kind of talked about things we thought were about to arrive, about cool stuff that has vanished and about technological gadgets. We also talked a little about the things we’ve done already and people we know in the places that are way too cool. That’s part of the naming game. Maarten really had a ton of luck ending up at Six Apart. Working from home, getting paid to talk about blogging and spending time with your kid. Indeed. Only the simultaneous presence of whoppers and wi-fi could possibly alter this degree of happiness.

At this time Maarten is participating in a rather big wi-fi project. A few hundred people have received a pda, and the entire city of Hasselt has access points all over the place, so users could log in virtually anywhere to do virtually any virtual stuff. Virtually. Cool thing to participate in. He got the pda for free, for his contribution of ideas to the project. Lucky prick ;)

After dinner, we sat on the terrace outside, where the photographer who didn’t say his name was GPRS’ing his pictures and some other work to the paper and probably other people. Maarten pulled out his laptop and blogged another thing, on the expense of some poor soul who has neglected the encryption of his local wireless network. Too bad for him, lucky for Maarten. At 12.15 am, we said goodbye. A lot of interesting people were there, I wanted to talk to many more… but there was no more time. I had to drop off Rik in Antwerp again, and then drive to my home, another 20 minutes of asphalt.

Empty highways. A driver’s dream.

UPDATE : I almost forgot : a scoop from Bart :
Our prime minister’s xml from his podcast [Dutch]


The Comment

28 Jun 2005

My dearest readers. I love comments, especially on other blogs. It is with great hesitations and a lot of caution that I’m applying comment sections to the posts, from now on. Peer-pressure, ladies and gentlemen, is something not to be underestimated. To those who’ve mailed me or just kept asking it very frequently : Yes. It’s here. No. I don’t like it. Let’s hope this goes right. I just hate wasting time moderating things.

Why this sudden twist? Well. Apparently, John Dowdell from Macromedia Support wanted to leave me a note about the FlashPlayer incident. Here’s what he wrote in Nathan’s comment section :

“I realized ‘CoolZor’ came to that conclusion, but the lack of commenting at his essay made better info difficult to convey.

No, you don’t need Yahoo to run Flash. In fact, the only way you even see an *offer* for Yahoo Toolbar is if you’re in IE/Win and actually visit the Macromedia website for a Flash Player, instead of using that browser’s normal ActiveX installation.

I can’t say this enough: “Bundling is evil.” But if you checked, you would find that there is no third-party software bundled within the Macromedia Flash Player download:

John Dowdell
Macromedia Support”

To which Nathan replied :

“John, I really appreciate you showing up here. That said, Coolz0r is not a computer novice like someone’s grandmother. If he didn’t realize he was installing the Yahoo toolbar when he installed Flash, then clearly not enough has been done to seperate the two. I’m glad to hear you are not bundling, but then this is a simpler, but still annoying case of unclear install instructions and web design. Which page has the offer for the Yahoo Toolbar, and why is Macromedia offering Yahoo’s software, if not for financial gain?”

Dear jOhn (I’m Coolz0r, John)

I know I don’t need a toolbar from Yahoo! to be able to run a FlashPlayer. That’s pretty obvious to me. Yet still, your software has betrayed me. I didn’t want a Yahoo! toolbar, and I’m aware of the tickerbox you’ve added on the macromedia downloads page. But this time, I had no chance to interfere. It was installed automatically, and included the toolbar. If I had known an update was available, be sure I would have gotten it manually in order to disable this wonderful feature.

I’m not against the promotion of another product, but I love this right I think I have, to deny a service I do not want to use.

Let me state clearly, I have nothing against FlashPlayer, although it has a bit of a monopoly on ‘motioned websites’, it’s still a wonderful thing.

I think for some users, an extra toolbar could come in handy too. But not for me. I think Yahoo! has the right to offer a toolbar, just like anyone else, and I do not want to express myself about the quality of the service. The search is super, but I’ll type it myself in my browser if I want to use it.

What I want to point out in your reply is the following :

“[...] if you’re in IE/Win and actually visit the Macromedia website for a Flash Player, instead of using that browser’s normal ActiveX installation.”

If I understand this correctly, any site that has the auto-detection plus auto-fetch-player function installed, serves you a player that includes the toolbar? Hm. This doesn’t sound good. Please to explain to me in what way this benefits any user on the internet, because I can’t see the relation between the need for a Yahoo! toolbar and the urge for a FlashPlayer in order to be able to see the site you were on -that redirected the user to macromedia in the first place.

This sort of turns every site that has auto-dectection to a marketing hotspot for a BUNDLED Yahoo! and Macromedia tool. I think.

Hence the well-chosen title : Toolbar needed to run FlashPlayer