"?> Davis Freeberg's Digital Connection » Uncategorized http://davisfreeberg.com Fri, 23 Sep 2011 19:32:38 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Which New Pilots Do You Think Will Face A Crash Landing? http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/09/20/which-new-pilots-do-you-think-will-face-a-crash-landing/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/09/20/which-new-pilots-do-you-think-will-face-a-crash-landing/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2007 21:55:41 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/09/20/which-new-pilots-do-you-think-will-face-a-crash-landing/ PremonitionIt’s not very politically correct, but I’ve always been fascinated by dead pools. I’ve never actually participated in one, but there is something about wagering on life and death that appeals to the degenerate gambler in me.

Since I’m pretty sure that participating in a dead pool is illegal in San Francisco, I suppose that I will have to live with the next best thing, dead TV pools. Marketing Shift is putting on a contest where they are asking readers to try and pick ten of the new shows, that you think will be off the air by the end of the fall season.

The winner of the contest will be the first person to have all ten of their picks canceled. The winner will receive a little bit of link love from MarketingShift.com, but the loser ends up with an internship at Cat World the CW ;)

If you want to see a list of all the candidates for the pool, you’ll find it on Marketing Shift’s website, but here are my picks for their first annual TV dead pool contest.

1.) K-Ville – I already have a season pass for this, but even though I think I’ll like it, I don’t see it taking off. Hurricane Katrina may be something that people feel connected to, but I don’t think that it will be enough to keep this show on the air, two years later.

2.) Chuck – I caught the pilot on this one and it seems like too much of a niche program to catch on in the mainstream. I’ll be tuning in until they kill this one, but I think this will be one of the first victims of poor ratings and too little patience by the studios.

3.) Pushing Daises – Admittedly, this one looks intriguing to me, but I think that Disney’s family angle will keep this show from being popular. If it was on HBO, I’m sure that this dark comedy would be very successful, but on the Disney Channel ABC it will end up too watered down to survive.

4.) Kitchen Nightmares – I can’t understand why any of the food shows are popular, but this wannna be Wolfgang Puck will go no where with his temper tantrums and scripted outbursts.

5.) Life – This one is just a little too quirky for me to believe that it will survive. If this was on the USA Network or FX, I could see them carving out a niche cable audience, but even NBC won’t be desperate enough to keep this around for too long.

6.) Caveman – This is one of the shows that I’m really looking forward to. The Geico ads were creative to begin with, but I’m also a fan of product placement over the 30 second ads. There seemed to be a lot of initial interest in the show, but I’m worry that it will get pulled after reading some sub-par reviews. I hope I’m wrong about this one, but only think the Caveman joke will go so far with primetime audiences.

7.) Life Is Wild – Between The Office and the upcoming US adaption of Coupling, we’ve seen strong interest in US based versions of UK programmes. Even though this will be an adaption of the hit UK drama Wild at Heart, I’m still not convinced that it will translate well for US based audiences. Since this one will be on the CW, it could always stick around even if no one watches, but I think that the CW can get better ratings with King of the Hill reruns and we’ll see them drop it.

8.) Viva Laughlin – This is another UK based show that is being produced for a US audience. It does have the very popular Hugh Jackman in the show, but somehow I don’t think the US is quite ready for a musical dramedy. I understood when Comedy Central picked Reno to make fun of Cops, but does anyone really believe that people want to watch a show based out of Laughlin?

9.) Samantha Who? – I’ll admit to having tuned into Married with Children episodes just to see Christina Applegate (Heck, I’ll even admit to watching her movie Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead), but now that she is starting to get older, I don’t see this one having the sex appeal to keep bringing audiences back.

10.) Moonlight – I’m a HUGE horror movie buff, but even this one looks cheesy to me. To make matters worse, CBS has put the show on their Friday night spot. This isn’t a bad time slot if you’re Numbers and are appealing to a baby boomer audience, but horror fans tend to go out on the weekends and aren’t going to stick around for something that looks this flimsy.

As a special bonus pick, I’m going to name Carpoolers as the season’s surprise hit. There may be other shows that end up getting better ratings, but I think that this one is going to do much better than the expectations. In about two to three years, it will be just as popular as the Office.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/09/20/which-new-pilots-do-you-think-will-face-a-crash-landing/feed/ 0
Davis Turns 2.0 http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/07/11/davis-turns-20/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/07/11/davis-turns-20/#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2007 06:55:16 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/07/11/davis-turns-20/ When Opportunity Knocks

It’s hard to believe, but today was a bittersweet anniversary for me. Secretly, I never thought I would make it, but it was a year ago that I made my first post on DavisFreeberg.com. Before starting the site, I had been covering digital technology periodically, on Thomas Hawk’s excellent blog, but after getting a taste for blogging, I took Tom’s advice and used this opportunity to help find my voice.

During the last year, there have been times where I have been right and there have been times where I’ve been wrong, but through it all, I’ve tried to do my best to call things how I see them (regardless of the details available.) Looking back, I have few regrets, but do wish I would have posted more.

The technological revolution that we are experiencing will be an important part of history. I have so many thoughts about the renaissance that we are in, but struggle getting them all down in writing. There are so many companies and stories and mind blowing things that deserve more attention, but sometimes I get lost in the details. Over the next year, I’m hoping to write more and explore new topics, that my readers are interested in.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts over this past year, but it’s been my readers that have made this such a special experience. Whether you’ve commented or linked to me or just stopped by and liked what you’ve read, thank you for participating. Your feedback is what has shaped the site and it plays an important role in the future of this community. Thank you to everyone who has put up with my ramblings over the last year. I hope that the next 12 months will be just as exciting, as the first.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/07/11/davis-turns-20/feed/ 7
Skate Or Die Inside Of San Francisco’s Jungle http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/06/25/skate-or-die-inside-of-san-franciscos-jungle/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/06/25/skate-or-die-inside-of-san-franciscos-jungle/#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2007 04:24:28 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/06/25/skate-or-die-inside-of-san-franciscos-jungle/ If At First You Don't SucceedIf you click through the photo, you can use portals to see the jump in action.

Last week, I was walking through the city, when I heard this strange drumbeat coming from one of the nearby blocks. It was a loud series of clacking noises followed by cheering and pandemonium. I wasn’t sure what it was, but was glad that I had taken my camera with me on this trip. As I arrived at the block, I saw a large group of kids watching another kid skateboard in front of the Levi’s building near Union Square. There were probably about 30 kids in total and they had only been there for a few minutes at best.

I was never very good at skateboarding, but I could tell that the kid they were watching, was really talented. He was a natural, every move made it look like the board was an extension of him. While I was watching, he was trying to jump at least 10 feet worth of stairs, without landing head first into rush hour traffic. If I was this kid’s dad, I would have been totally freaking out, but as an innocent by-stander with a camera, I was more than happy to start snapping off shots of the blood and guts successful landing on his amazing jump.

Each time the kid jumped, the crowd would give him more encouragement. After watching him eat it three times, I thought he was ready to give up, but finally he landed another one and when he did, the response was amazing. You would have thought the kids were about to start rioting. Immediately, all of the kids started banging their skateboards on the sidewalk chanting again and again. It was a very surreal experience, it was way outside my normal day to day life in the city. It was as if I stumbled onto a lost tribe in the middle of San Francisco.

Eventually, the kids attracted the attention of security and had to take off, but watching them celebrate this accomplishment, reminded me of what it was like to be young again. They really weren’t hurting anyone with their skating, but you can bet that it was a lawsuit waiting to happen for the property managers. It seemed strange to be able to see both sides for once.

When I talked with the kids, they were really excited that I got pictures, but made me promise that if I sold the photos, that the proceeds had to go to them. I don’t know why they thought I would be able to sell them, but they must have taken one look at my Canon Rebel and thought that I knew what I was doing. My images are not exactly stock photography quality, but these kids were so excited by what they had seen, it didn’t matter. You should have seen their faces when I told them about Zooomr marketplace. I asked them what I should charge and they wanted college savings money, but eventually I talked them down to $100. It’s not enough to pay for any future hospital bills, but it would at least be enough for the kid to buy a helmet. If you are interested in licensing the images of this death defying act, feel free to send me a Zmail and we can work out the details.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/06/25/skate-or-die-inside-of-san-franciscos-jungle/feed/ 0
You Got Questions – We’ve Got High Priced Accessories http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/04/24/you-got-questions-weve-got-high-priced-accessories/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/04/24/you-got-questions-weve-got-high-priced-accessories/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2007 15:06:23 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/04/24/you-got-questions-weve-got-high-priced-accessories/ America’s finest news source, the Onion, took a stab at financial analysis on RadioShack’s stock and concluded that even the CEO of RadioShack can’t figure out how they are still in business. The article is packed full of gems, but here are a few of my favorite choice quotes from the piece.

-”"Even the name ‘RadioShack’—can you imagine two less appealing words placed next to one another?” Day said. “What is that, some kind of World War II terminology? Are ham radio operators still around, even? Aren’t we in the digital age?”"

–”One of Day’s theories about RadioShack’s continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless RadioShack gift cards that sit unredeemed in their recipients’ wallets. Day has even conjectured that the store is “still coasting on” an enormous fortune made from remote-control toy cars in the mid-1970s.”

-”It’s like walking into your grandpa’s basement. You always expect to see something cool, but it never delivers.”

-”I know one thing,” Day continued. “If Sony and JVC start including gold-tipped cable cords with their products, we’re screwed.”

Even though the article is a parody, there is still a little bit of truth to it. Last month, Moody’s told investors that RadioShack wasn’t just selling junk inside of the store and despite the company’s recent stock rebound, they still face plenty of challenges as they complete their restructuring.

I don’t normally shop at RadioShack, but the last few times I have gone in there, I haven’t been very impressed. Sure they have plenty of gadgets, but they are never the kick ass cutting edge gadgets, they are the cheap plastic gadgets that someone might buy, but wouldn’t really need. Things like wireless doorbells or $80 adapters that recharge your cell phone, even though you can use a $2 USB cord instead.

What I do use RadioShack for though is scoring accessories that I’ve forgotten about, but need at the very last minute. I may end up paying more for new batteries or an ethernet cord, but at least they have it and it’s usually convenient to find a Radio Shack location.

I would actually shop at RadioShack more, except everytime I go into their store, they try and hard sell me on something I don’t need. Whether it’s their “gold tipped cable” cords or a more expensive version of what I’m really looking for, their sales associates have always been very aggressive with the suggestive sale. This probably helps to keep themselves in business, but as a consumer who typically knows what he wants, it’s a huge turn off when I think about going into one of their stores.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2007/04/24/you-got-questions-weve-got-high-priced-accessories/feed/ 0
Milton Friedman 1912-2006 – A Hero Passes http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/17/milton-friedman-1912-2006-a-hero-passes/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/17/milton-friedman-1912-2006-a-hero-passes/#comments Fri, 17 Nov 2006 03:34:26 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/17/milton-friedman-1912-2006-a-hero-passes/

I haven’t had a lot of heroes in my life, but Milton Friedman was one of them. When I first started studying economic thought, his free market principals played a huge influence in my life and it was with great sadness that I learned of his passing today. While I have no doubt that the power of his ideas will live on long past his passing, he will still be missed.

“A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality. Freedom means diversity but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s less well off to become tomorrow’s rich, and in the process, enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a richer and fuller life.”

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/17/milton-friedman-1912-2006-a-hero-passes/feed/ 0
RedBox Still RedHot http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/03/redbox-still-redhot/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/03/redbox-still-redhot/#comments Fri, 03 Nov 2006 03:59:06 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/03/redbox-still-redhot/

On a day where Blockbuster Video had to admit that they were forced to close 343 net stores over the last quarter, Coinstar reported their earnings and gave the investment community a very different outlook on the current state of the DVD kiosk industry.

In short the DVD kiosk industry is strong. Redbox has done exceptionally well this year and over the long term, Coinstar expressed confidence that Redbox can get to over 10,000 locations in the next 3 – 5 years.

Over the last quarter, Redbox has added approximately 200 new kiosks to their program. For kiosks that have been open for over a year, they’ve seen an astonishing 147% improvement in rentals from just a year ago. This is up from the already amazing 105% same store growth that was announced last quarter.

If you look at Redbox’s progress, over the first 9 months of 2006, Coinstar reports that they rented 13.8 million DVDs with the average rental period being 1.5 nights for most consumers. Due to stronger then expected demand for DVD kiosk rentals, Redbox now expects to show a $1 – $1.5 million loss for all of 2006, compared to previous estimates that had placed that number at closer to a loss of $5 million.

With over 900 DVD kiosks having been rolled out over the last 9 months, Redbox now has approximately 1,600 kiosks nationwide. Of these 1,600 machines, approximately 1,000 are located in McDonald’s restaurants and the other 600 are currently, either being tested or in the process of being rolled out by 30 other merchants.

Of these merchants two particularly important relationships were forged over the last quarter. The first was with Walgreens who is currently testing 38 Redbox machines in Houston and Chicago. The second and more significant partner is Walmart who has been testing Redbox vending machines in their Atlanta based stores. While Coinstar stopped short of giving the exact number of Walmart stores that were participating in the tests, by doing a little online sleuthing, I was able to find over 20 Georgia Walmart locations that were listed on the Redbox website.

If these tests with Walmart go well, it would be a huge development for Redbox. With 2006 largely turning out to be a testing phase for most retailers, 2007 is increasingly begining to look like it will be the year that the DVD kiosk begins to go mainstream. Retailers are now showing clear demand for the advantages of bringing DVD rental into their stores and after Walmart tried and failed with their own DVD by mail program, it will be interesting to see if they embrace the kiosk as an alternative way to provide DVD rentals in their stores. While the Walmart program is still very much in a test phase, Coinstar said that they expected that they could see a decision on whether or not an expansion will happen between November 2006 – February 2007.

The DVD kiosk is in an excellent position to take advantage of the misfortunes of the video store. While the selection at a kiosk isn’t the same as a full retail store and certainly isn’t anywhere close to the same as the 65,000 DVDs that Netflix offers, the technology is here to do burn on demand DVDs and I believe that this will be the future of the DVD rental. In the near term, the DVD kiosk will offer short head content that is popular with many consumers and DVD by mail will offer the longtail content that I personally prefer, but as DVD burning gets closer to becoming a reality and if Redbox or any of the other kiosk providers ever combines DVD kiosks with DVD by mail, we will see a very different business model present itself.

DVDXpress has already announced that they are experimenting with a subscription rental business model and with Coinstar owning an option to purchase their company over the next two years, I believe that we could also see Redbox adopt a similar strategy. If the subscription model proves lucrative, it could not only put pressure on Blockbuster and Movie Gallery to innovate, but Netflix as well. With more and more rental options becoming a reality, the end result will be that the consumer will win most of all. While it’s exciting to see Redbox demonstrate such phenomenal growth, it’s even more exciting to realize that the company is still very young. As they move from 1,600 kiosks to 5,000 and then to eventually 10,000, it will be fascinating to watch the effect it has on the DVD industry.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/11/03/redbox-still-redhot/feed/ 3
The Subtle Advantages of Redbox’s DVD Kisoks http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/25/the-subtle-advantages-of-redboxs-dvd-kisoks/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/25/the-subtle-advantages-of-redboxs-dvd-kisoks/#comments Wed, 25 Oct 2006 00:13:56 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/25/the-subtle-advantages-of-redboxs-dvd-kisoks/ About 6 months ago, Byrus from the Daily Gadget, wrote a brief review of Redbox’s DVD rental machines in Colorado. Since that time, Redbox has made two major enhancements to their DVD rental program, so he went back and wrote an excellent update on his experience using the Redbox DVD machines. Over the last 9 months we’ve seen Redbox upgrade their older DVD vending machines from a capacity of 100 discs to 500 discs and we’ve seen them add support for online reservations. The combination of both of these enhancements has created a subtle advantage that kiosks have over Blockbuster and Netflix.

“Because you can rent and return anywhere, and you can rent online from any box this is a great service for travelers. You can rent a DVD on the way to the airport, watch it on the plane and return it when you land (if you are going somewhere that has a RedBox) just make sure you look up a location at the other end of the trip. Another option is to do the same during a road trip. You can even rent a new one at your next stop online. Try that with NetFlix or Blockbuster.”

Part of why I think Redbox has been so successful has been because they’ve been targeting communities one at a time, instead of trying to immedietely go national with their service. As their business expands, we’ll see Redbox spread to other cities, but by saturating a local market, they give their customers more rental options instead of just targeting a single location. This enables the company to offer more titles because they can put different new releases at different locations. It also makes it easier for customers to return their discs if they live or work near several different kiosks.

In reading through the review, I found it interesting to learn that Redbox has started renting television shows along with the new release movies that they are known for. While it’s entirely possible that they may have been offering television shows all along, at a cost of $1 per DVD and with most DVDs having four shows, you can go through an entire season of TV for only $6, if you are efficient in watching your rentals. This is a considerable cost savings over traditional video stores and iTunes, in addition to offering a significant time advantage over DVD by mail. While not everyone will want to binge on massive amounts of TV at once, I know that I enjoy watching a season of television from end to end vs. having to deal with cliff hangers all year long. One of my favorite things about Netflix has been my ability to go back and discover old television shows for the first time and while renting an entire season in one week sounds intense, I’ve always had a secret fantasy to try and relive an entire season of 24 over an actual 24 hour period.

I don’t believe that Redbox is going to replace the longtail experience that Netflix offers, but I do think that there are consumers, like Byrus, who appreciate the flexibility and value that a kiosk experience provides. My dream DVD experience would be to see Redbox combine the convenience of a DVD kiosk with an online DVD by mail subscription. Such a combination would give me the ability to have an all you can watch experience, but to also still have access to the longtail content that I crave. While, to date there have not been a lot of consumer reviews on Redbox, I have a feeling that as we see more and more locations deployed nationally, that we’ll see more positive experiences like the one that Byrus describes.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/25/the-subtle-advantages-of-redboxs-dvd-kisoks/feed/ 0
Watch Out For Ad-Hoc Networks http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/17/watch-out-for-ad-hoc-networks/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/17/watch-out-for-ad-hoc-networks/#comments Tue, 17 Oct 2006 22:05:12 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/17/watch-out-for-ad-hoc-networks/ The first thing they taught me when I started taking business courses in college was that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Some may disagree with this statement, but even “free” things carries costs even if they are sometimes a bit abstract.

I guess I shouldn’t have been all that suprised to find out today that the two months I used “free WiFi” in my apartment may not have turned out to be free after all. At the time, I was fighting with Comcast and figured I could leech off of free hot spots to tide me over. For the most part, I didn’t think too much about the security issues associated with doing this, but after reading Q Daily News’ article on scammers using Ad-Hoc networks to get private information, I’m now quite nervous that I may have put sensitive data at risk.

After booting up his laptop and looking for a nearby WiFi network, Jason saw a number of “ad-hoc” networks that were pretending to be Tmobile or Starbuck hot spots. In the comments a reader reports that this could be an issue with people having their laptop set up improperly, so it might not necessarily be scammers coming after you, but if you see these ad-hoc networks, it’s probably not a good idea to be doing Google searches for your social security numbers on them.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/17/watch-out-for-ad-hoc-networks/feed/ 0
Netflix Employees Thank Their IT Department http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/01/netflix-employees-thank-their-it-department/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/01/netflix-employees-thank-their-it-department/#comments Sun, 01 Oct 2006 22:58:51 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/01/netflix-employees-thank-their-it-department/

This is an interesting Netflix clip that I stumbled across on Google Video. It features a number of Netflix employees thanking their IT department for all of the help that they had been given. I found it interesting because it helped to put a face on some of the employees behind the company. When watching the clip, I almost get the feeling that it was a good bye video for one of their employees. It was posted on Google video with the title Netflix References and included the following text.

” I worked with our business leaders in HR, Operations, Finance and Customer Service to develop SLAs for IT. In a very short time, my … all » Helpdesk Team exceeded our SLAs and our customers loved us.
I look forward to the opportunity to create a similar team for your company.”

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/10/01/netflix-employees-thank-their-it-department/feed/ 0
Robot Tells Reporter That Humans Taste Like Soylent Green http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/29/robot-tells-reporter-that-humans-taste-like-soylent-green/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/29/robot-tells-reporter-that-humans-taste-like-soylent-green/#comments Fri, 29 Sep 2006 21:38:37 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/29/robot-tells-reporter-that-humans-taste-like-soylent-green/ Thanks to TiVo I’ve seen every single Twilight Zone episode and one of my favorites is the ubber creepy episode To Serve Man. The episode features an alien race that promises to give away technology if humans will come visit them on their home planet. At the end of the episode we learn that To Serve Man is really the title of a cookbook. 8O

It may not be as creepy as the Twilight Zone, but NEC System technology was showing off a robot that they’ve trained to analyze wine by utilizing laser beams when the jounalist interviewing the robot put his hand in front of the sensor it told him that he tasted like prosciutto and that a cameraman tasted like bacon.

I’m always up for tasting a new wine, but I’m not sure that I want to be the one to verify the accuracy on this technology. Using a robot to digitally smell wine is certainly an interesting idea though and considering that they already they have professions where people train their senses to predict a good wine, using a computer to analyze wine from a chemical perspective makes a lot of sense.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/29/robot-tells-reporter-that-humans-taste-like-soylent-green/feed/ 0
The Best Little Courthouse In Texas http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/25/the-best-little-courthouse-in-texas/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/25/the-best-little-courthouse-in-texas/#comments Mon, 25 Sep 2006 16:53:57 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/25/the-best-little-courthouse-in-texas/ Over the last year, Marshall Texas has received a lot of publicity over their connection to a number of high profile patent cases. Whether it was TiVo’s dispute with Echostar or Microsoft’s patent loss to Autodesk, this small little town has found themselves at the center of the exploding patent industry in the US.

While the Marshall Courthouse has been accused of catering to patent trolls and of having jurors that tend to be overly symphathetic to plantiffs, the real driving force behind the patent lawsuits being filed in Marshall started when Judge John Ward got fed up with the long delays and problems with patent cases and set up what he refers to as “the rules.” The rules are a set of guidelines that Judge Ward uses to ensure that patent cases move quickly through the Marshall court system. They include strict time tables that attorneys must adhere too, as well as page limits on arguments being made to the court.

While these limitations were designed to help reduce the number of patent cases on the docket in Marshall, it actually ended up having the opposite effect by creating a very attractive district for plaintiffs to file for relief against patent infringers. Already patent cases can take years to make it through the court systems, but by offering a more streamline approach to patent litigation, Judge Ward went from speeding up his docket to making Marshall a patent hub in the US court system.

This weekend the NYTimes wrote a great background piece on Marshall Texas (BugMeNot) and discussed the impact that the patent gold rush is having on the local economy there. In a city where the local attorneys generally know the jurors on a first name basis, the flood of outsiders has been seen both positively and negatively. On one hand high priced out of town patent attorneys help to bring local commerce to the city and has been a boom to the local office rents and the hotel industry, but on the other hand, for a town where the biggest social event is their fire ant festival and the major news outlet is the Marshall News Messenger, the influx of outsiders is watched with a bit of distrust. Judge Ward often has to start out his patent proceedings by issuing what’s referred to as the “rattlesnake speech.” A stern warning to out of towners that they are beginning to get the judge rattled by their delays.

“Like a scene out of the comedy movie “My Cousin Vinny,” the speech starts with a polite invitation to approach the bench — and ends with a stern warning to pick up the pace or else. “He gives you a real talking to,” says Smith, a partner with the Roth Law Firm in Marshall and chairman of the Eastern District’s rule committee, a group of local attorneys that works with Judge Ward to set the guidelines for basic pre-trial and trial procedure. “He won’t bite you that first time, but if you don’t get the message, you’ll wish you did.”

With the growing importance of Marshall as a patent hub, many attorneys have tried to do their best to adjust to the small town life, including picking up a Texas drawl and attending local events, but in a town with less then 25,000 residents blending in can be pretty difficult for outside attorneys. Instead many firms have turned to local attorneys to help them navigate juror selections and the nuances of small town life.

While Marshall has taken their share of critcism for contributing the the deluge of patent lawsuits, I believe that much of this criticism is unfounded. Many of these cases would have been filed one way or another and if other court systems would adopt similar rules to help resolve these sorts of disputes quicker, we would we see patent attorneys start filing lawsuits in other areas. While many patent defendents may fear the district, if other courts were more efficient about processing their own case loads, then Marshall wouldn’t be the one the pick up the slack.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/25/the-best-little-courthouse-in-texas/feed/ 0
He Who Controls The Past Controls The Future http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/03/he-who-controls-the-past-controls-the-future/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/03/he-who-controls-the-past-controls-the-future/#comments Sun, 03 Sep 2006 17:22:47 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/03/he-who-controls-the-past-controls-the-future/ This week there were two pretty significant set backs in free speech rights. The first was that the settled a lawsuit against them for archiving past web pages. Currently, the gives anyone the option of blocking the archiving of old websites, but it’s up to the publisher to use a code telling them not to do it or which pages to keep out. This is something that the has done voluntarily, yet they were still sued for letting someone get into old web pages that they have a legal right (or at least I think they do) to be keeping records of.

By settling the case, they may be getting rid of a legal headache, but I would have liked to have seen the defend their right to keep records of the net and to establish a legal precident for their right to archive the internet. In the end I can’t blame them for doing what they did, but I think that something much greater could have been accomplished had they fought this lawsuit and sent a clear message that what they are doing is right.

In a second set back for free speech activists, Culver City, CA offered to provide free wifi access to their citizens, but it comes at a price. According to the terms and conditions set forth, if you want to get access to the free juice, you’ve got to agree to give up your first amendment rights.

“It is not the intent of the City or the Agency to allow unlimited access to the entire Internet. Nor is it the intent of the City or Agency to create a traditional or limited public forum ( i.e., a free speech arena).”

Internet access has become the library of the 21st century. It offers opportunities that never existed before and I think that every city should create free WiFi for their residents because the internet is an equalizer in society. It can empower anyone, regardless of their background. When you are online, race doesn’t matter, being poor or rich doesn’t matter, your social status doesn’t matter. What matters is the quality of your ideas and the power of your message. Because of this people can create real businesses and relationships in an environment where they don’t have to worry about the biases that exist in the real world. By giving away free WiFi a city is making it easier for their citizens to take advantage of the still emerging digital landscape and to better enrich their own lives.

When Culver City starts their free wifi program, it will likely be popular. Free is a tough price to ignore compared to $25 a month for cable access and I would be surprised if a lot of people don’t make the switch. Unfortunately though, by restricting free speech, the city is not really providing internet access, but rather a filtered environment where they have the right to effectively control the message to many of their citizens. If something negative comes out about a politician they can have the article nuked in a spam filter. If they decide that Boing Boing is really pornography, then they have the power to eliminate that.

Now I can understand why they would want to keep hate speech and pornography off of their network. In someways it’s not that different then using public airwaves to receive TV. If we can’t show pornography there, then why on a free wireless net? On the other hand, this sets the city up for a very dangerous game of who gets to decide what is pornography and what’s considered hate speach. Whoever has control over that message is the one that can restrict what their citizens can and cannot see. I am sure that when the US was founded that the revolutionaries would have been considered a form of hate speech by the British, yet their determination is why we enjoy the very freedoms that we have today. I can think of at least one small town where a politician could have been tempted to suppress the media, if he could have gotten away with it. It’s still too early to tell how Culver City ends up making these decisions, but it’s a source of control that they don’t really need to have.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/09/03/he-who-controls-the-past-controls-the-future/feed/ 0
When Ajax Goes Bad http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/22/when-ajax-goes-bad/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/22/when-ajax-goes-bad/#comments Tue, 22 Aug 2006 03:29:38 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/22/when-ajax-goes-bad/ AJAX Makes Everything Better

I love Ajax, but there are times that sites can over do it a bit. BLaugh has yet another classic blogosphere comic making fun of the latest web 2.0 trend.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/22/when-ajax-goes-bad/feed/ 0
Lightning Strikes The Banker’s Heart http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/16/lightning-strikes-the-bankers-heart/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/16/lightning-strikes-the-bankers-heart/#comments Wed, 16 Aug 2006 05:11:51 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/16/lightning-strikes-the-bankers-heart/ Lightning Strikes The Bankers HeartLightning Strikes The Bankers Heart Hosted on Zooomr ]]> http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/16/lightning-strikes-the-bankers-heart/feed/ 0 Cingular Hates Their Longtime Customers http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/cingular-hates-their-longtime-customers/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/cingular-hates-their-longtime-customers/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2006 04:41:13 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/cingular-hates-their-longtime-customers/ Everytime I see anything written about Cingular I know that it has to be about how they are screwing someone. This time they have decided that they want to charge an extra $5 per month to long time customers who refuse to upgrade their phone to Cingular’s new system. I will never understand how they became as popular as they did, but I’ve never seen any company consistently try and harass their customers more then Cingular. I’ve been a Cingular customer twice in my life. The first time I was smooth talked into signing up with them, but immedietely began to have problems. Whether it was realizing that I didn’t check the fine print on what nights meant (my night starts a lot earlier than 9pm) or finding out that they prorated my first months bill after the fact (fact my first bill was over $300), lets just say we didn’t start things out on the right foot.

A little over 2 years ago, I wanted to switch from a local carrier in San Francisco to something more reliable and decided to pay a premium to get AT&T Wireless. I wanted a nice phone that didn’t cost me money to use my mp3s, so I picked up the 2 year contract to help subsidize my cost. Of course no sooner did I sign the contract, then Cingular bought out AT&T Wireless for boatloads of money. The entire time I was an AT&T Wireless customer Cingular continually tried to hard sell me on switching to their network, but I kept refusing after seeing what they did to Thomas Hawk when he wanted to use his Audiovox. Maybe this is part of the reason why they have to fine their customers $5 a month for not upgrading their phones, but frankly I think this is a bad move on their part. First they lock you in with long term contracts, then they refuse to let you transfer your phone number until the government makes them and now they want to charge you extra for service, but you can’t transfer your phone to someone else because they’ve intentionally locked down your phone to their network. Something about this just doesn’t seem right about this, I’ll let the class action attorneys sort this one out, but I smell funny money. Ultimately, when I read things like this, it makes me glad that I paid a little bit extra to buy an unlocked phone instead of being held hostage to a bad cell phone company.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/cingular-hates-their-longtime-customers/feed/ 1
Davis 1 – Comcast 0 http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/davis-1-comcast-0/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/davis-1-comcast-0/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2006 02:18:33 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/davis-1-comcast-0/ So over the last two weeks I’ve sort of been at war with Comcast. For as much as I seem to love the internet I sure seem to hate the people who provide me with it. For now I can’t bite the bullet and pay to have them provide me with my internet access and I’ve already tried the phone company and for whatever reason they can’t provide me with DSL without having some tech guy come out on my dime. For the last two weeks I’ve just been doing my best to live without it. Living without net access has been like missing a leg. It’s really funny to think about how much the connectivity of the net has changed my lifestyle, but I’ve really felt out of place not having access to the information superhighway. I was lamenting to Tom about my problems earlier today and he came up with the perfect solution. He suggested that I pick up a wireless access card for my PC and use it to connect to the Google WiFi now that I’m living downtown. I stopped by CompUSA on my way home tonight and picked up generic wireless USB adapter and it works perfectly. Finally I’m back online and I’m using a company that I actually like.

If Google WiFi turns out to be a real solution to my internet needs it could end up saving me at least $400 a year. For now, I’m really pleased with how things turned out, the connection is stable and the speed is fast, but the real test will come when I try and see if I can hook up my TiVo series 3 using the free net access. If I’m able to use Google WiFi and still be able to network my TiVo to my home media, then I’ll be more then happy to tell Comcast to stick with what they do best, maintaining a monopoly stranglehold on my TV.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/08/02/davis-1-comcast-0/feed/ 1
You Know You Have A Gambling Problem When . . . http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/31/you-know-you-have-a-gambling-problem-when/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/31/you-know-you-have-a-gambling-problem-when/#comments Mon, 31 Jul 2006 22:38:32 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/31/you-know-you-have-a-gambling-problem-when/ I’ve always been fascinated with gambling. They’ve actually done studies on compulsive gamblers and have found out that their brains are hard wired differently then the rest of the population. Historically, I’ve been pretty good at avoiding gambling, but if you stick me in front of a craps table I lose all control over the money in my wallet, for whatever reason I just can’t resist the dice. Gambling, like anything can become an obsession for some, but by and large most people seem to be able to handle the risks associated with it. What I find most interesting about gambling though is that people will find anything to bet on. The lastest crazy betting idea is that you can actually bet on what you think the #1 blog will be on Technorati by the end of the year. BetUs is hosting the contest and they are offering odds on most of the major blogs, but not surprisingly they don’t offer odds on technorati’s current #1 blog. As a blogger, I’m not exactly sure what my #1 pick would be, but in a world where MySpace can become a #1 site in less then 2 years or where Digg can rival the NY Times in terms of influence in less then a year, I think that this would be a hard contest to actually bet on. All it takes is for a popular blog to find the next Sony root kit or to have the right controversy and you can see traffic spike. I’m sure that BetUs has a way that they are spreading out their risk, but this is one contest that I wouldn’t even begin to know how to handicap.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/31/you-know-you-have-a-gambling-problem-when/feed/ 1
Movie Gallery Wants You To Buy Insurance For Their Defective Products http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/21/movie-gallery-wants-you-to-buy-insurance-for-their-defective-products/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/21/movie-gallery-wants-you-to-buy-insurance-for-their-defective-products/#comments Fri, 21 Jul 2006 13:13:43 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/21/movie-gallery-wants-you-to-buy-insurance-for-their-defective-products/ I’ve seen a lot of interesting ways for companies to make money, but my jaw just about hit the floor when I read a complaint on the Consumerist this morning that said Hollywood Video has begun implementing a .25 insurance charge against defective DVDs that won’t play. What blows my mind here is that if I go to just about any business in the US and buy a product and it ends up not working, you can always take it back and exchange it. Even at Blockbuster Video, they’ll give you another copy of the movie if you get a damaged disc. Does this mean that if you don’t pay their .25 tax that they won’t give you a refund on defective products they sell you? The whole policy sounds pretty funny money to me.

In looking through my Netflix history, I’ve had a damaged disc rate of about 3%. Now I rent a lot of movies, so this means that every couple of months I’ll hit a dud. When I do, I tell Netflix, they immedietely send out another disc and while annoying, I get to watch my movie with minimal effort on my part. I don’t know Hollywood Video’s damaged rate, but if you assume a 3% rate and you pay $3 a rental, then insurance would theorhetically break even around .09 a disc. For a customer to breakeven paying .25 per disc, they would need to experience a failure rate of over 8%, which if that’s the case, I’m not sure I’d be renting from Hollywood Video to begin with.

In all fairness to Movie Gallery, they are donating the proceeds from this scheme to charity, but that doesn’t mean their decision to not accept exchanges is right and the Consumerist rightly points out that Movie Gallery does receive the tax benefit of the donation (or at least they would if they made profits) This whole program sounds like another stupid tax to take money out of the pockets of hard working consumers and Hollywood Video should come up with a better way to deal with their defective products then making customers buy insurance. I’d rather see them raise prices by .25 and have the same return policies that most businesses have, then to resort to these types of shady tactics to help boost their revenues.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/21/movie-gallery-wants-you-to-buy-insurance-for-their-defective-products/feed/ 10
It’s Not A Digital House, It’s A Home http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/18/its-not-a-digital-house-its-a-home/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/18/its-not-a-digital-house-its-a-home/#comments Tue, 18 Jul 2006 21:55:19 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/18/its-not-a-digital-house-its-a-home/ Anders Bylund with Ars Technica picked up on a news report by the BBC where Sonos CEO John McFarlane has suggested that the Digital Home may still be at least a decade away from being a reality. In the article, he points to broadband penetration in the UK preventing growth as well as a lack of mainstream appeal for the digital home. In the article, McFarlane claims that “”The digital home has been talked about for a long time but it’s only just starting to happen.” he then elaborates further by stating that “there needs to be enough digital content and the understanding of the technology before the work can get started.”

While I would agree with McFarlane that there has been a lot of buzz around the digital home, I might disagree with his statement that there isn’t enough digital content to drive a digital revolution. Now granted I’m an early adopter, but when I think about my own media habits, I can’t even imagine going back to an analog world.

At this point in my life, I’ve digitized my entire MP3 collection and have them stored on external drives. I’ve scanned every photo that I’ve ever taken and added it to my digital library along with the countless digital images that I’m producing now. I’ve substited the blogosphere and the web over subscription newspapers that I used to read frequently. My television habit has changed dramatically in that I now time shift everything and have the option to place shift, if I’d only breakdown and buy a laptop. Recently, when I went to find a new apartment in San Francisco, instead of relying on newspaper ads, I instead opted to use electronic ads on Craigslist. If I needed to locate an apartment, instead of turning to Thomas Guide I turned to Yahoo! maps. Instead of using a phone to contact people, I now use VOIP through Skype. In fact in thinking about my life, I don’t know that there is much that I now do that is not digitally connected in one way or another. This is what makes his comment about there not being enough digital content sound kind of funny to me. In my life there is no shortage of digital content and as I’ve built up more and more content, the need to have a digital home has become increasingly clear.

While I understand that his comments are really focused more on the mainstream, I still think that he is underestimating the potential that all of these forces play in driving consumer adoption of the digital home. For the time being consumers might not be aware of all of their options, but with the TiVo series 3 coming out and the growing popularity for things like Microsoft’s Media Center plugin, Harmony, which lets you control security cameras, heating, lighting, etc., I can’t help but think that the digital home is going to be here a lot sooner then a decade from now.

It may be that my early adopter mindset prevents me from believing that it will take a full decade for the digital home to catch on, but in looking at all of these digital pieces falling together, I can’t help but believe that the digital convergence is closer then when McFarlane might think.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/18/its-not-a-digital-house-its-a-home/feed/ 2
Would You Recommend Your Hosting Company? http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/17/would-you-recommend-your-hosting-company/ http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/17/would-you-recommend-your-hosting-company/#comments Mon, 17 Jul 2006 15:47:00 +0000 Davis http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/17/would-you-recommend-your-hosting-company/ I came across an interesting post on Wigley and Associates Leadership Blog talking about their experience with his hosting company Tiger Technologies. Normally, these articles are pretty negative because typically you only write about hosting companies when things go wrong, but Wigley actually takes the time out to write about how great Tiger Tech really is.

I appreciate this because my experiences with hosting companies hasn’t always been positive and while it’s easy to find hosting companies to avoid, sometimes it’s hard knowing what you are getting into before you have a chance to experience the service first hand. When I set up this blog, I spent a lot of time looking at different hosting companies and ultimately settled on a company called BlueHost. I choose BlueHost primarily because they offered easy integration with WordPress, but I also liked that by hosting with them, they give you a free domain registration, as well as offering hosting for 6 different domains on the same plan. This is really nice if you have more then one site that you work on, but don’t necessarily need the bazooka bandwidth for all of the sites.

As DFDC continues to develop, I hope to start working with a few other blogs focused on other areas, so this solution made a lot of sense to me. It’s only been a few weeks that I’ve used BlueHost, but I would certainly recommend them to my readers at this point. Every call into their service center has been treated professionally and they even followed up with me to make sure that everything was set up right. The only downside so far was that the site went offline for a little bit this weekend, after they lost power at their server farm and the backup generator didn’t last long enough for them to fix the issue.

I’m interested in knowing about the other hosting companies out there and whether or not my readers would recommend their own hosting solution. Have your experiences been as positive as BlueHost or Tiger Tech or have you dealt with slow email delivery times, unstable hostings and bad customer service. Hopefully, by sharing my experience with others, people can know what to look for and what to look out for.

]]>
http://davisfreeberg.com/2006/07/17/would-you-recommend-your-hosting-company/feed/ 0