Around the Dot

29 June 2006

Da Vinci-style Web & AC/DC
A graphic made of random coordinates taken from analysing 10% of the web has been released a few days ago on Alexa Web Discovery Machine blog. The result is stunning for several reasons.

Look at that ACDC lightning!

First, it just looks like a Da Vinci drawing. I mean really. Especially as it is plotted in red.

Second, there are clear patterns and the points are not evenly distributed like you thought they could have been and a lot are concentrated on the axis and the origin - I leave it to statistics experts to come up with theories and explanations.

Finally, what is this AC/DC-lightning looking shape doing in the middle of the big circle? Is the web trying to warn us that we could get electrocuted while websurfing?

Of course, there is a strong bias on the kind of coordinates found online as shown in a following post a few days later.

Of Manners & Mobiles
One reason why I miss London and I'm glad to go back soon is that attitude, that "je ne sais quoi" that Brits have that makes them write a little jewel like this (BBC online article) by analysing the small details of our everyday life.

Of course, here the matter is of extreme importance as it threatens the very intrinsic quality of the Englishman - punctuality.

The advent of the mobile phone harks back to a different age of etiquette, the time before watches. In the Canterbury Tales era, if you had arranged to meet the other pilgrims at the crossroads with the big tree on the 29 June, you were allowed a bit of leeway. Maybe noon was suggested, but it could hardly be enforced.

Thanks to mass produced watches and clocks we have had years of enforced punctuality, but now mobile phones allow us to call to apologise. Or rather, they allow sheepish text messages. And there is a code.

"I'll be a couple of minutes late" translates as anything up to 15 minutes after the agreed time. "I'll be 15 minutes late" translates as anything up to half an hour. "I'm running very late" means it might be time to look for more punctual friends.

That last part is so true of certain friends of mine who think that a meeting at 12:30 means they need to leave their place at 12:30, whatever long it takes to get from their place to wherever we are supposed to meet. But, what the heck, that's in France.

20 June 2006

Guns n' Roses - 5/5
I have now seen all the founding member of Guns n' Roses on stage. I had seen Axl, Slash and Duff live in 1993 in Paris, then I recently attended a concert by Steven Adler in LA and today I saw Izzy Stradlin who was invited for a few songs by Axl Rose on his European Tour with the "new" lineup. More on that later because it's 3am and I just got back...

But I had to post this!

"So eaaaaaaaasyyy"

MySpace serious about Europe
According to the Financial Time, MySpace will be made available in languages other than English, with 11 countries “earmarked”. Sounds like a nice gigantic masterplan to gain more users (86 million is not enough, I’m sure they are pushing for the 100m milestone).

MySpace, the social networking site, is to use the UK as a beachhead for a push into Europe that will see it link up with “old media” companies and mobile phone operators to attract more users.

Fox is still trying to find how to make big bucks out of its big website: auctioning its ad/search platform is not enough apparently and since these kids overseas like to spend so much on their mobile thingies, let’s go there and partner with carriers!

16 June 2006

Entrepreneurs: Speed is of the Essence

now that is a fast-lived company.
i can do the whole dotCom cycle in two weeks flat.
idea -> conception -> implementation -> deployment -> viral spread -> implosion -> failure! :)
if one in 12 startups fails and i can do one every two weeks...
then i should be able to turn out two successful startups a year!

That's from an interview of David Weekly (who apparently deserves his name), founder of myspace profile exploitation service

14 June 2006

Smells like moving boxes
As we are going to leave our Parisian flat at the end of the month, I have put some of our furniture up for sale on Craigslist (this link will self-destruct soon).

Give it a look if you're based in Paris. I'm ready to throw homemade cookies or a wine & cheese for "Around the Dot" readers. :)

Note: selling my own furniture on the net kinds of feel like striping... :'(

12 June 2006

Jim Noir in the Light
By sheer luck, I downloaded British (pop?) singer Jim Noir’s song “Eanie Meany” which was featured as iTunes’ free download of the week in the end of 2004. And I was surprised to hear it today during the commercials at USA – Czech Republic halftime (doing consulting work part time from home is great in World Cup times!).

“Eanie Meany” has this line about “if you don’t give my football back”. This has seduced the guys in charge of the new Adidas “+10” campaign who have nicely used it as the soundtrack for the Part II of José’s adventures. You can access the film here (enter the site, go to the "impossible team", click "watch the movie" and select "Part II - Partido").

I just wanted to highlight this because Jim Noir deserves some attention.
My drop in the vast ocean of the World Cup communication madness…

As an aside, it’s amazing how quickly wikipedia is updated. This news is already on it.

08 June 2006

London MBA collective Blog
In a "Lost" fashion, I have just started "pushing the button" at the London Business School MBA Blog. I think it's the first blog by a school. Hopefully it will match the impressive Wharton Diaries which have been running for almost five years (I traced it back to the first "entry").

Don't worry, they don't have me locked in a hatch and I should be able to freely voice my (crazy) opinions there :)

07 June 2006

Keep it clean… and quiet?
“On the Offensive”, published last month in the WSJ, highlights the dirty secret of media content sharing sites, that is increasing costs of keeping content “clean” (i.e. no porn). For instance, Photobucket, the pictures hosting rising star (now on par with juggernaut Yahoo Photos at 10m visitors per month), has 30 people paid to watch uploaded pictures (90 per second at peak times) with 2 new 10-people shifts to come.

[Photobucket] expects to spend $1 million over the next year on content monitoring.

Unfortunately, it appears no filtering software is yet perfect, so relying on humans is the only solution (since nobody managed to train pigeons for that task). Imagine the poor guys who have to watch 150,000 pictures per day of which 0.7% are “inappropriate” (that’s a 1000!). Quoting one employee:

"Some days I wish I had a bottle of bleach under my desk so I could wash my eyes out"

Besides, the task is not easy for people or worse for computers because the definition for what makes it to the web and what gets rejected is quite blurry and is easy to abuse:

The censors are told to kill anything that might not appear in a mainstream magazine, an admittedly loose standard. A bare bottom is not OK, but a bare bottom showing even a tiny sliver of thong underwear is fine. A cartoon that uses the word "nigga" is OK but one that uses "nigger" is not. Nipples and genitals painted or tattooed to look innocent are definitely flagged. "That's something the computer wouldn't catch," said Mr. Gers, 24, one recent day, as he zapped a picture of two snowmen sculpted into a sexual position.

Just imagine what the cost may be for video hosting. I can only think “ouch” for Youtube – currently burning $1m/mo on bandwidth and $3.6m/yr in people costs.

But all the so-called web2.0 sites have to do it. Not for ethical “being/doing good” reasons but because advertisers really don’t like to pay to have their ads alongside offensive content.

MySpace's ability to sell advertising, its primary source of income, depends in part on scouring the site for objectionable material. [...] brand-name advertisers are leery about taking spots on pages created by MySpace users, which make up the vast majority.

By the way, I’m not sure the offensive content is the only issue that has advertisers holding back advertising on user-generated content sites (think ugly myspace pages).

Anyway, if you’re looking for a new business idea, read the WSJ article… and start a “picture review” outsourcing venture. And otherwise, keep it quiet! you don’t want this bubble to burst just over small expenditure details or advertisers fleeing brand-new hype web2.0 services, do you? :)

06 June 2006

... The Number of the Beast!

Scary date, which works for Europe and US systems alike. Hope nothing bad happens ;)

"Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea,
for the Devil sends the beast with wrath,
because he knows the time is short...
Let him who hath understanding reckon
the number of the beast
for it is a human number,
its number is Six hundred and sixty six"

Note: I'm not a big fan of Iron Maiden but I like/own their albums up to TNoTB (included).

03 June 2006

London is...well, bullish
Remember London Business School won MBAT.

We didn't bring back just the trophy. IESE's beloved "Toro" is now ours too and has started blogging about his London life. So far, he seems to be enjoying Sundowners after a proper relooking/rebranding and getting his campus ID card.

That's so funny. Well done guys.

01 June 2006

Google Survival Kit
Following my Firefox tip, here is another one that can save your life if your are a clueless European in the US - works the other way around too.

Google has a nice calculator feature which knows (oohooh magic!) how to convert most currencies and more importantly measure units. That really covers the essentials:

What is "20 miles" in kilometers?
Is 75F cold? (for a beer or for a bath...)
Are 5 gallons that much?
Is that girl on mySpace really that sexy? (I know, that's bad...)
How expensive is that super-super-size-me value meal?

Firefox Tip of the Day
I'm sure you know about the CTRL + ENTER shortcut to add the "www." and ".com" to a name entered in the address box of your browser, were it Firefox or IE.

Now, I've accidentally hit SHIFT + ENTER yesterday on Firefox and it added "www." and ".net". Isn't it grand?

And now, let's get nuts, how can we get the ".org" (I'm a big fan of wikipedia for instance). Hmmm. Try ALT + ENTER... nope... CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER ? BINGO!!!

Guess what? My wife thinks I'm a n3rd now... "geek" + CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER anyone? ;)