Archive for November 2006

Three Ball in the Side Pocket

3 Ball in the Side Pocket3 Ball in the Side Pocket Hosted on Zooomr

Getty Launches New and Improved Image Search

Getty ImagesGetty Images Hosted on Zooomr

Last month I went up to Seattle to spend a day with Getty Images and learn more about what they are doing in the field of stock photography. As part of our visit with Getty we were shown some of Getty’s new Image Search technology early but I’ve been under an embargo and unable to talk about it until now.

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I’m very interested in the field of image search. Watching the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask) build out their various image search technology I’ve been convinced that there has got to be a better way to bring quality relevant images to those who want to view them. This is also part of what we are working on at Zooomr.

The problem with image search at the major engines today is that their programs are entirely computer algorithm based and getting at what is inside of an image is not always easy.

Flickr, who is owned by Yahoo! of course, has in my opinion the best image search technology out there today. Flickr has been able to harvest the power of a social network to sort their photos and come up with beautiful images on demand of almost any subject, person, place, thing, etc.

But while Flickr’s images are great, they still miss many of the images being turned out by the Pros these days. They miss a lot of the high profile celebrity type images (you have no idea how popular these are) and also because Flickr does not use human editors to sort through their search results, many search results are still full of the wrong kinds of images.

So I was very interested in seeing what Getty was up to with image search when I visited them. Getty’s market for image search is a different one than the major search engines or Flickr. Getty is primarily trying to sell images to news outlets and marketers. Their primary clients on the editorial side are major news publications, magazines, TV shows, etc. On the creative side they sell to advertisers, manufacturers, and marketers of all types.

According to Getty CEO Jonathan Klein Getty gets over a million search requests a day for images. “Our customers run more than a million searches for imagery every day on, which we see as more than a million opportunities to learn from their experiences,” said Klein. “Incorporating this learning from our customers has allowed us to continue our leading role in defining and shaping how imagery can be delivered to customers.

So what Getty has created is something that works for both the image buyer as well as, in my opinion, the image consumer. Their new image search engine is available at Getty’s new search engine makes it easier than ever to sort through Getty’s very large professionally organized library of images. As a marketer or news publication this makes it very easy to find the images that you are looking for quickly. Especially in the news breaking world of editorial photography quickly finding the right image is very important. Breaking news, breaking images.

And the images are of super high quality. As a consumer you may also be interested in these images. The negative from a consumer perspective of course is that all of the images are watermarked. But you can still see very high quality photographs of images that you are interested in.

Angelina JolieAngelina Jolie Hosted on Zooomr

Are you interested in the San Francisco 49ers? Are you an Angelina Jolie fan? Want to see some interesting shots of the Killers? Then check out the website and enter in these terms or whatever other terms you’d be interested in checking out. You might be surprised at what pops up.

While we were up in Seattle a lot questions were asked about if Getty would be creating a consumer product. Robert Scoble suggested that screen savers of some of their images for instance would be beautiful and could be powerful marketing tools. While I don’t think Getty is ready to do this just yet, consumers can still do searches and see some of the best of what Getty has to offer with this new search engine.

The new search engine is localized in German, Spanish and English.

Nick Douglas Going to Work for Huffington

Valleywag's Nick DouglasThe Devil Himself, Nick DouglasValleywag's Nick Douglas

Huffpo’s surprising San Francisco hire – Valleywag So it looks like Nick Douglas will be going to work for The Huffington Post. Nick Denton’s had us checking and rechecking Valleywag since Monday morning after telling us (and later saying it would be delayed) that he’d let us know what Douglas was up to on Monday.

I can’t seem to find anything on the Huffington site yet about Douglass (a “Nick Douglas” search turns up no results), but I’d expect to see something from them on this soon.

According to Valleywag Douglas will write for the “Eat the Press” column and will write three articles a day.

Dave Winer first wrote of Douglas’ possible departure from Valleywag saying that a little bird told him that Douglas was going to do something in video back in October.

According to Denton, Douglas is also working on a book about Mike Arrington.

Congratulations Nick and I’m looking forward to what you come up with. Hopefully you’ll have an RSS feed dedicated to all the stuff you write at Huffington.

What Digital SLR Should I Buy for Christmas?

Robert Scoble says that he likes conversations on his blog more than email because everyone benefits from the information that is exchanged. I would agree with him. In the past few days I’ve had about 10 people come to me asking personally for information on what digital SLR they should consider buying for Christmas. Although my knowledge is by no means comprehensive (there are many, many digital SLRs that I’ve never tried) I thought I’d take a minute to offer up some recommendations at the various price points.

First a comment about brands in general. I’m biased towards Canon. I shoot Canon personally. If you look at what digital SLRs the Pros are shooting these days Canon completely dominates the field. You still see a few Nikons out there and you also see some Hasselblads at the very high end (I had my portrait taken with one up at Getty last month), but mostly the Pros shoot with Canons. This does not mean that Pentax and Fuji and any number of other digital SLR manufacturers don’t make good digital SLRs, it just means that the Pros are mostly using Canon.

My first recommendation is for the person who wants to try to spend around a $1,000 on a digital SLR set up. For this person I’d recommend the following.

Digital RebelDigital Rebel Hosted on Zooomr

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT body (approx $534) includes a battery and charger.

Canon EF 28-135 zoom lens (approx $389 with rebate).

SanDisk Ultra II 4GB flash memory card (approx $159).

Total cost: approx $1,082

My second recommendation is for the person who has more money to spend and really wants to go top of the line. Here I could not recommend more highly the Canon 5D. It’s the camera that I personally shoot with. It’s the best priced professional grade full sensor digital SLR. It takes amazing photographs!

Canon 5DCanon 5D Hosted on Zooomr

Canon 5D body
(approx $2,500 with rebate) includes a battery and charger.

Canon Telephoto EF100 macro lens
(approx $439 with rebate).

Canon EF135 telephoto lens (this is my favorite lens of all) (approx $875 with rebate).

Canon EF 50 (approx $289 with rebate).

Sandisk Ultra II 8GB compact flash card (approx $300)

Total approx price for the above set up: $4,400.

If you wanted to try and do it without using the three prime lenses and only using one zoom lens instead you might want to consider the Canon 24-105 zoom (approx $1,000 with rebate)

Total approx price for the 5D, zoom and memory card: $3,800.

Nikon D200Nikon D200 Hosted on Zooomr

If you already have Nikon compatible lenses or just prefer shooting Nikon, I’d also recommend you look at the Nikon D200. This is another solid offering that takes amazing photos. Personally I’d spend the extra $1,000 and get the Canon 5D with it’s full frame sensor, but if you really want to go Nikon the D200 is definitely worth looking at.

My advice on where to purchase your camera is that you consider B&H; Photo (all of the links above). B&H; Photo has a reputation for very great service and very low prices. B&H; doesn’t pay me any money to say this. I’ve bought a number of different items from B&H; and have been very happy with their selection, service, website and prices.

Alternatively you might want to consider purchasing your camera at Costco.

The disadvantage with Costco is that you can’t really customize your camera set up just the way that you want.

The advantage with Costco though is that their return policy is perhaps the best in the business. Anytime within a year you can take your camera back to Costco for a refund or replacement. This is better than the one year warranty that comes with Canon cameras where you need to send your camera in if it breaks. With Costco you could just walk into the Costco give them the old broken camera and get a brand new one. In fact, if the price drops on the camera you can even get your money back for your broken camera and spend the lower amount on a new camera. It’s amazing to me that Costco is able to offer money back guarantees on technology which surely will drop in price over the year, but they do. (Computers are six months only by the way).

The one thing you *don’t* want to do is try to simply find the cheapest retailer online using shopping comparison price engines. I did this about a year ago and it it resulted in my most popular blog post of all time after I had a run in with a sleazy bait and switch camera retailer out of Brooklyn called PriceRitePhoto. You can read the horror story if you like here.

Avoid buying the camera kits with the flimsy kit lenses. You will get so much better photos by buying a decent lens. Also consider purchasing a sturdy tripod if you are interested in doing night photography. Don’t waste your money on a cheaply made tripod that will break. You’ll just end up buying another one. I’d recommend one with a good ball head like this.

Oh, and what should you do when you take all those great new photos with your new digital SLR? Upload them to Zooomr and share them with the rest of the world of course (I’m the Evangelist and CEO for Zooomr so I had to get that one in there)! Check out some of the great shots that people are putting up on Zooomr here!

Oh and for a little inspiration on your new photography hobby check out this cool little Canon commercial video as well.

Orange Lauches Pikeo

Techcrunch � Blog Archive � New Photo Sharing Site: Se Habla Espa�ol…Et Fran�aisOrange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, has opened their Pikeo photo sharing beta up to the public. In addition to the TechCrunch article linked above you can read more about it here at Nice Mustard as well.

The photo sharing site initially will be in English, Spanish and French and will focus on geotagging images.

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind with Pikeo is that it has the power of Orange and France Telecom behind it. We have only begun to see a fraction of the power of the mobile phone market for photo sharing sites.

Mobile providers want their customers to use photo sharing sites with their camera phones because they use up data minutes. They also give people something else to do with their mobile phone, making it a more and more integral part of their life and a more rewarding experience for their users.

The mobile companies basically all will need to begin offering photo sharing services. The question will be to build, buy or partner. In this case France Telecom has elected to build.

Particularly as mobile phones increasingly build in geo location functionality, geo tagging camera phone photos will get bigger and bigger.

By having a built in partnership with France Telecom (as a subsidiary) Pikeo will be able to ramp up and build an image library pretty quickly as Orange begins to market Pikeo to their users.

Go Bears! Go Cardinals!

Go Bears, 3Go Tree 3Go Tree 4Go Bears

Stanford vs. Cal’s “Big Game” is this weekend at UC Berkeley. The Bears are the favorite to win.

The winning play in 1982.

I heard a funny joke yesterday by comedian Bob Sarlatte. He said that you can tell the difference in college degree’s between Cal and Stanford by just looking down the road from each school. At last count there were over 60 VC firms just down the road from Stanford on Sand Hill Road. You can compare that with the 60 tattoo parlors just down the road on Telegraph Ave. at Cal.

Wikipedia on the Big Game rivalry.

Go Bears! Go Cardinal!

Night Crossing

Night CrossingNight Crossing Hosted on Zooomr

Yo Quiero TiVo Bell!

Yo Quiero TiVo BellYo Quiero TiVo Bell Hosted on Zooomr

Can you say I want my TiVo in Spanish? Well next year you might be able to if you happen to subcribe to Cablevision S.A. de C.V. and live in Mexico. Today TiVo CEO Tom Rogers along with TiVo CFO Steve Sordello updated Wall Street analysts on the nuts and bolts of TiVo’s business this past quarter.

There are now 1.6 million standalone TiVo subscriptions on top of another 2.8 million DirecTV subscribers for a total of approximately 4.4 milllion TiVo subscribers. Over the last three months TiVo added 101,000 gross new TiVo subscribers, but only 16,000 net new TiVo subscribers. TiVo lost $11.1 million for the most recent quarter and are predicting that they will lose anywhere from $33 to $38 million for the next quarter due to an aggressive advertising and rebate program.

Purchases directly from TiVo’s own website continued to be strong over the past quarter increasing vs. retail units from 33% to 43% of their business. This is in large part due to a “free” TiVo option available last quarter online but only recently available in retail stores. TiVo has now introduced a rebate based “free” single tuner box option in the retail store for the Holiday Season.

Personally I think the free TiVo offer is kind of lame. First off, it’s not really free because you have to pay a monthly service fee and second it’s only available on single tuner non high def units, units which are very shortly going to be completely obsolete. People think they are getting something really sexy when they hear the word “TiVo” but really they are getting the junky unit. I can’t imagine using a single tuner DVR anymore and anything that doesn’t do high def makes me cringe. Then again, of course, you can’t always have your 1/2 LB.* Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito and eat it too.

One of the issues addressed on the call was the now lack of a lifetime purchase option for TiVo consumers. “What we’ve done now is moved everyone to contract,” said Rogers. Adding, “moving away from lifetime was a good thing to do.”

Rogers noted that the current prepaid $299 three year option is actually the same price as TiVo’s previous lifetime option and said that TiVo is seeing the same level of cash coming from from upfront three year commitments as they did from lifetime sales in the past. Although having to pay monthly for your TiVo three years after buying it is not as good of a deal as it has been in the past, on the plus side for TiVo they now no longer have to worry about unprofitable customers sitting on the books indefinitely.

In the new non lifetime TiVo world, TiVo has three contracts available. You can get monthly service for one year for $19.95 a month, 2 years for $14.95 a month or 3 years for $12.95 per month. There are also prepayment options for all three packages as well.

TiVo said that their most popular offering is currently the three year option. “The most popular plan is the three year prepay plan. The three year prepay plan and the three year monthly are close to a majority of our overall subscriptions at this point,” said Rogers.

By cutting off free lifetime service and increasing costs to consumers, TiVo said that they have now been able to move the average price paid by new consumers from $9.50 a month to $13.50 per month, calling this a “very substantial increase.”

So what’s next for TiVo? A big initiative for TiVo going forward will be integrating broadband online video content with broadcast TV and other content.

“Not a week goes by without some studio or network or internet company providing yet even more video content online,” said Rogers. “Tivo is providing one holistic viewing experience.” Rogers reiterated his pitch from the past saying that it’s not TV unless you watch it on a television.

Rogers talked about new initiatives to allow people to share home movies on their TiVos as well as TiVocast, a new initiative where more and more broadband video content can be put online.

TiVo also continues to cozy up with advertisers in an attempt to turn itself from advertiser pariah to advertiser best friend.

“We did deals with the three major advertising companies to say that we are friend not foe,” said Rogers, Adding, “what we do find is that the engagement with us only has more and more momentum.”

Rogers talked about a new initiative called “Program Placement” that will allow advertisers the ability to put advertising at the end of a show at the point when users decide to either save or delete a program. Details weren’t provided on how this would work or whether they would be optional or compulsory ads, but TiVo’s press release on the service mentions Burger King and GM and says that the ads will be for “the viewer who chooses to watch it.” Hot Chihuahua! You mean I can actually *choose* to watch a Burger King commercial? No way, man! Cool beans!

TiVo’s most exciting product in my opinion, the new dual tuner HDTV Series Three TiVo was almost entirely absent from the call with TiVo only saying that Series Three unit sales “met their expectations.”

Rogers talked also about TiVo’s latest new deal announced with Cablevision S.A. de C.V., Mexico’s largest digital cable operator, TiVo will develop a new service for them similar to the service being built for Comcast and Cox that will allow Cablevision S.A. to offer TiVo service for sale to their customers. Rogers said that they hope to deploy the Calevision service quickly and said to expect to see this mid 2007. I wonder if they can hire that little Taco Bell dog to do some new “Yo Quiero TiVo” ads.

Speaking of Comcast, Analyst Daniel Ernst of Hudson Square Research asked Rogers about the status of the Comcast deal and when we might see the new service in trials and deployed.

Rogers said that the previously announced deal with Comcast is moving along nicely and said that you can expect to see demos of the new Comcast TiVo service coming soon here in January at CES.

Rogers qualified the Comcast rollout as saying that the timing would be up to Comcast but that TiVo would “expect to see some kind of trial (not necessarily a public trial) of our fully developed product sometime this year continuing next year. Our expectation is to see some public deployment early next year,” said Rogers. “The excitement level at Comast has only grown.” Rogers quoted Comcast’s COO stating that Comcast plans, “to market the product so that getting TiVo is an easy decision for our customers.”

The rumor on the Comcast rollout is that it has been pushed back to April 1st and that it will cost Comcast customers $5 per month for the TiVo service (about the equivalent of 6 Taco Bell bean burritos per month, depending on where you live… that’s a lot of gas).

*Based on average weight. Individual product weights necessarily vary.

Night Train

Night TrainNight Train Hosted on Zooomr

More Q&A on my New MacBook Pro

Well I didn’t quite expect 30 plus comments on my post about switching from PC to Mac, but it probably shouldn’t surprise me. Mac vs. PC is always a controversial subject I suppose and certainly people who love their Macs feel very strongly about it.

I thought I’d use this new post to answer some of the comments on the original.

Scott Williams and the monk (along with others) suggest that maybe my problem really isn’t a Mac vs. PC one but is more a problem with Dell PCs specifically. He notes, “I’ve built many PC’s over the years and have rarely had problems with them.”

I’d like to say that my bad PC experiences were limited to Dell but this is not the case. In addition to my primary machine that I used (my Dell notebook) I also have another Dell desktop at home, an HP Media Center PC at home and my primary at home PC a custom built ACMA machine. I have to say that I’ve had problems with all four of the machines. A while back I wrote a post called Tech Support With Thomas Hawk that I was going to keep up on. In it I was going to try and document every problem that I had with my PCs going forward to see if people could help me fix them. But there were too many and the post got unwieldy.

My custom built ACMA machine for instance sometimes just won’t boot up. I have no idea why. I have to begin unplugging all of my USB devices until eventually it boots up. Then I can replug in the USB devices and use them again. That’s a pain. I could go on and on but there’s no point. Universally over the past 15 years my experience with PCs have been bad. Different brands, Sony, HP, Dell, Toshiba, custom built, etc.

Maybe with Vista this will change. Maybe not.

A lot of people wrote comments saying that they had had similar conversions with regards to moving from a PC to a Mac. I think that a big part of my move was feeling comfortable with the unknown. That’s really hard to do. Having Kristopher there as a resource should things go wrong gave me a lot more confidence. I’m not sure if I’d done the switch over without feeling like I had the support I’d need. But my fear was irrational. And it should serve as a reminder that things oftentimes are easier than you’d think and innovation should be pursued even when you fear change.

An anonymous user asked “what’s the EVDO device?” I had problems and had tried three different cards with Verizon for my PC, none of which would work. Finally I concluded that my card slot on my laptop was bad. I called Dell for support on this but they would only authorize my shipping it back to them for repair if I completely reformated my PC and started over. I didn’t want to lose all my email (figure out how to move it to another PC etc.) and I didn’t want to be without my laptop for a few weeks while they looked at it so I abandoned it. I went to the same Verizon store (yes, ironic that I was railing against Verizon as pigs for trying to charge you $15 a month for YouTube videos) with my Mac, bought a card on the spot, plugged it in and had it working within 10 minutes. I’ll have a whole other post on that later. EVDO rocks.

Shawn Oster
asks me how I’m liking the OS on the Mac. It’s great. It takes a little getting used to but I find it very similar to windows actually. I’ve had to get used to using the command key instead of the control key but once you learn the basic shortcuts (command N for new window, command + shift N for new folder) I’m able to get around on it pretty easily. Forcing myself to learn and use the various keyboard commands helps. Right click works and even with the touchpad if you hold down the control key you get right click.

Smiley tells me that all Macs are female. I didn’t know that actually but I like the way that sounds. Interesting.

Matt Large
asks my opinion about iPhoto and Aperture. While I haven’t used iPhoto yet I did try out Aperture. I like Aperture a lot. It’s super easy to use. It’s also super fast. I found though that I couldn’t figure out how to do some of the things I do in my post processing in Photoshop though. For instance, in Photoshop I can alter the vignette on my photos. I couldn’t figure out how to to do that with Aperture. As smooth as Aperture felt, I think that because I’m more familiar with Bridge and Photoshop right now I’ll probably stick to them for now. Aperture seems like it does 95% of the stuff that you need to do with photo post processing though. It handles temperature for RAW files well. But there are little things like the spot healing brush, vignette, etc. that I still prefer Photoshop for. By the way to see how I process my photos and get lots of great Photoshop tips check out Episode Three of Photowalking on Scoble Show. Jan Kabili, a Photoshop author and Pro, walks me through my workflow and gives me some fantastic tips (Part I, Part II).

Mero and some others ask if now that I’ve bought a Mac if they can expect me to be one of the first to try out the new iDongle (Apple’s announced TV extension thingy that I’ve been critical of in the past). Ha! Well, I doubt it, but you never know. My principal objection to the iDongle (my name for it not Apple’s) is that I don’t think that it will offer premium HDTV support. Unless the iDongle offers support for a dual tunner premium cable/satellite HDTV PVR package then I have no interest in it. If Apple does plan on offering premium HDTV support through the iDongle then I think it’s a marketing mistake not to announce this now. $300 for a plug in to move standard definition TV to your hot new 43″ HDTV plasma does not excite me at all.

Shinypenny asks what model Dell that I had. I had the Inspiron 630m. It was less than a year old.

Andrew Denny says he was the only guy commenting who bought a Mac and actually regretted it. Certainly I am not under the impression that the Mac is a miracle machine. It is at the end of the day a computer and all computers can have problems. Even Kristopher Tate who largely pushed me towards the Mac just recently had a problem with the battery on his and just earlier this week had to send it back to Texas for repair. But at the same time, I will say that fundamentally, it just works. And that counts for so much. Certainly you will always find a few bad apples in a bunch, but in general I think that Mac “just works” much better than the PC.

tmv32 asks, “Do you know what program or how Kristopher transferred your mail and contacts to the Mac?”

Actually I don’t but I’ll ask him. I used Thunderbird for email on my old machine because Microsoft kept rejecting my valid and legal authentication code for my legal copy of Outlook. Kristopher just does magic with computers. It’s really pretty crazy watching him work. He just kind of hooked it all up and started typing and doing all these things to it and in about 30 minutes the machine was all tricked out and all my old stuff (email, contacts, Flock and Firefox settings, etc.) was just seamlessly moved over. I’m using Thunderbird still on the Mac (it works great and is free) so I think it was just a matter of exporting some file from my Dell and reimporting it on the PC. He just connected my Dell into his network at home
and did his usual magic. I’m lucky having a friend to help me out like that.